CATS bus catches fire on I-77 during heavy Friday morning commute

A CATS bus caught on fire early Friday on I-77 southbound near Fort Mill, S.C.
A CATS bus caught on fire early Friday on I-77 southbound near Fort Mill, S.C. Photo courtesy of Tim Sherer

A Charlotte Area Transit System bus taking commuters from Charlotte to Rock Hill caught on fire as it traveled south on Interstate 77 Friday morning, stalling traffic for miles during morning rush hour.

Two passengers and the operator were on the bus when a fire ignited on the back of the bus, near the engine, near Gold Hill Road in Fort Mill, S.C., said CATS spokeswoman Krystel Green.

The fire was on the outside of the bus, not in the interior where passengers were sitting, she said. Everyone inside was escorted off the bus and no injuries were reported.

As emergency crews responded to the incident, two lanes on the interstate were blocked. By 7:45 a.m., traffic was moving steadily again.

The bus was headed toward Rock Hill, possibly while performing a “reverse commute” which mainly involves picking up passengers in Charlotte and taking them to Rock Hill, Concord or Gastonia, Green said.

CATS plans to investigate the cause of the fire.

The fire was just one of several incidents reported early Friday as mounting wrecks heralded the start of a Labor Day weekend expected to see tons of travel.

By 6 a.m., one person who had been trapped in a car was flown to Carolinas Medical Center after a crash on University City Boulevard, according to MEDIC.

By 8:40 a.m., police and state troopers were investigating other crashes and road blocks on:

▪ 5415 Equipment Drive

▪ North Tryon Street and East 8th Street

▪ 15410 Stumptown Road

▪ Research Drive and West W T Harris Boulevard

▪ University City Boulevard and Harris Houston Road

▪ Rock Island Road and Shopton Road in Steele Creek

▪ Raintree Lane and Willow Point Drive

▪ McAlpine Park Drive and McAlpine Station Drive

▪ Monroe Road and McAlpine Station Drive

▪ 7541 Lawyers Road

▪ 8000 Nations Ford Road

▪ East W T Harris Boulevard and Grier Road

▪ Providence Road and Country Lane

▪ 4100 Sudbury Road

▪ West W T Harris Boulevard and Old Sugar Creek Road

▪ East W T Harris Boulevard and Hickory Grove Road

▪ 5600 Providence Road

▪ I-485 Inner/Craig Lawing Freeway

▪ I-485 Outer/Governor James G. Martin Freeway

▪ Monteith Grove Drive and Old Statesville Road

▪ Arbor Pointe Drive and Park Road

▪ Runnymede Lane and Windsor Drive

Nearly 1.5 million Carolinians are expected to drive 50 miles or more over the Labor Day weekend – the highest number in seven years, according to AAA Carolinas. Much of that has to do with an improved economy and the lowest gas prices in 11 years.

Last Labor Day weekend, state troopers investigated 13 fatal collisions in North Carolina. Expect to see authorities out in force this weekend on interstates, major four-lane highways and rural paved roads.