WILSON, N.C. (WNCN) — More than 40 Virginia college student-athletes escaped a bus fire along Interstate 95 in Wilson County on Saturday night.
The incident was reported around 10:15 p.m. in the northbound lanes of I-95 near mile marker 120, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
Troopers blocked at least one lane while a bus chartered by Hampton University went up in flames, officials said.
The bus was filled with athletes from the Hampton University track and field team, said student Khalil Gary, who is from Raleigh.
The bus driver “did an excellent job” evacuating the 41 students who were on the bus before it was gutted in the blaze, according to a news release from Wilson County Emergency Management.
“Great teamwork tonight for a charter bus that caught fire in I-95,” the news release said.
The team was coming back from a competition in Columbia, South Carolina, according to Gordon Deno, Emergency Management Director for Wilson County.
After the fire, the team was taken to Hunt High School in Wilson where they waited for a few hours until a new charter bus came and picked them up.
Hampton University’s sports spokesman Jim Heath released a statement Sunday:
On Saturday night an engine fire caused the independent charter bus containing the Hampton University Track and Field team to stop near Wilson.
The team was safely evacuated with zero student-athletes harmed and the fire was extinguished. They returned home safely in the early hours Sunday morning.
The fire took about a half hour to extinguish as about 100 gallons of diesel fuel burned, Deno said, adding that the bus did not explode.
Several agencies helped at the scene including the volunteer fire departments of Contentnea, Rock Ridge and Sims, Deno said.
Wilson County EMS was also at the scene.