A 25-person van caught fire after apparently overheating at a gas station in South of Market on Monday afternoon.
The blaze at the Chevron gas station at the corner of Ninth and Howard streets sent thick smoke into the air when it broke out around 2:30 p.m., leaving one firefighter with a minor injury. The fire was contained by 3 p.m.
Witnesses reported hearing an explosion while the bus burned.
Patrick Weible, who lives less than a block from the gas station, saw the bus become engulfed.
“A guy was getting gas, and all of a sudden the bus was in flames,” Weible said. That’s when he heard three explosions, and smoke began pouring from the bus.
The driver of the bus, operated by Transmetro, pulled into the gas station after noticing the engine was overheating, Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa told reporters at the scene.
The driver opened the hood to check the engine compartment and walked into the gas station store for a minute before others in the area alerted him that smoke was coming out of the engine block, Siragusa said.
The driver returned to discover the bus was on fire and called for help at 2:33 p.m., Siragusa said. Meanwhile, the gas station owner activated a safety valve that turns off the pumps.
Firefighters arriving on the scene found the bus, fueled by liquid petroleum gas, engulfed in flames. Because there was the potential for explosion, firefighters retreated to a safe position and put a large amount of water on the fire, extinguishing it by shortly before 3 p.m., Siragusa said.
The bus was gutted in the fire, and melted much of the plastic on the pump next to the bus, though the market and Burger King located at the gas station appear to have escaped damage.
Bay City News contributed to this report.
— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) February 29, 2016