Bus carrying Penn State students catches fire along Interstate 70

A Martz Trailways bus bringing Penn State students to State College after spring break caught fire Sunday afternoon on Interstate 70 a few miles from the Breezewood exit.

Caroline Hagerty, a freshman at Penn State, said she was sleeping when passengers started yelling for the bus driver to pull over.

“I woke up, and it (smelled) weird, and people were yelling,” Hagerty said.

When the bus pulled over, Hagerty and the rest of the passengers grabbed what they could and “ran off the bus.”

She said the bus was engulfed about five minutes afterward, and no one was injured in the incident.

The bus was one of three traveling from the Washington, D.C., area to State College. Hagerty said hers was the third in line, and the other two buses had to circle back to pick up the stranded students.

The students arrived in State College on another bus late Sunday.

Hagerty said she was able to save her belongings, but some students weren’t able to do so.

“For the people who had their stuff in the overhead compartments, they didn’t have time to grab their stuff, and that’s where the fire was primarily,” she said.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Residence Life is assisting students whose university ID cards and keys were destroyed in the fire. The university said in a news release that those students should visit their residence hall commons desks. Students who live off campus and are in need of temporary housing can also visit a commons desk.

Those who are dealing with other losses related to the fire can contact Student Affairs at 863-4926 starting at 8 a.m. Monday, the university said.

Pegeen Sheakoski, of State College, was traveling in the same direction on I-70 when she came upon the bus shortly after it caught fire.

“We were coming up the hill, and all we saw was jet-black smoke,” Sheakoski said.

She said the white bus was pulled along side the road, and passengers were standing outside with their luggage.

“It looked like the whole top part was burnt out,” Sheakoski said.

Martz Trailways could not be reached for comment Sunday.