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Driver Escapes Bus Fire

On snowy day, unexplained blaze closes South Fern but damages only tour bus.

South Fern Street was lined with lights last Thursday, lights from holiday decorations and from police cars and fire trucks.

Firefighters were called to the 1200 block of South Fern Street on Dec. 5, after a Yellow Motor Coach bus burst into flames. The bus was not being used by any tour group at the time, and the driver escaped without injury from flames or smoke.

The driver was not available for comment, but Ernie Malendez, a supervisor for the Loudoun County based bus company who arrived at the scene, said the driver was sitting alone in the bus when he noticed smoke in the rear of the bus. The man opened the doors and escaped, then called for help.

The fire was not considered a major incident, according to George Williams, a spokesperson for the fire department. Williams said firefighters on the scene reported no problems, and no fire marshals were called to the scene.

At the time of the fire, the bus was parked on South Fern with the engine running, Malendez said, and left the road closed. Arlington police came to the scene to control traffic and make sure that no crowds gathered too close to the fire.

The back tires were burned, along with the luggage compartments at the bottom of the bus. The company towed the bus to its maintenance yard, but had not yet determined the cause of the fire.