Greyhound passengers stranded, cold and frustrated after bus catches fire

A passenger wants to know why Greyhound took so long to send help after he and about 20 others spent two hours stranded on the highway outside of Cache Creek B.C. after their bus caught fire.

Vic Austin was travelling from Prince George to Kamloops when the fire broke out over the rear right wheel at 5:25 a.m. PT this morning, filling the cabin with smoke that smelled of "burning plastic, metal, and burning brake pads." 

"I was awaken[ed] by the bus driver yelling at everyone to get off the bus. He had already stopped it on the side of the highway," said Austin.

'Middle of nowhere'

"We're in the middle of nowhere, about 15 kilometres out of Cache Creek. It's not winter but it's not warm either and many of us were not properly dressed because we had taken off our jackets and sweaters." 

The driver and another passenger put out the fire using two fire extinguishers.

Austin said when the driver attempted to call a supervisor, he was put on hold for 20 minutes before being transferred to Greyhound's head office in Dallas, Texas.

Austin assumed the bus company would send taxis to take the passengers the short distance to Cache Creek, but that didn't happen.

Elderly and disabled

A few passengers who were fed up with waiting started hitchhiking, while others were forced back inside the smokey bus because of the cold.

"There's some elderly and some handicapped passengers. They had no choice if they wanted to stay warm," said Austin.

Lanesha Gipson, Greyhound Senior Communications Specialist, told CBC News in an email that she was not aware of the driver being put on hold when he called in to report the fire. 

"Driver calls, especially when an emergency occurs en route with customers on board, are always answered immediately and action is taken right away to take care of the customers."

"If we are made aware of a customer who has an urgent need to be transported by other means, we will do our best to accommodate them. However, we were not made aware of such circumstances," said Gipson.

A relief bus sent from Kamloops did arrive over two hours after the fire was doused.

Greyhound's spokesperson said it is "conducting and internal investigation to determine exactly what happened."