At approximately 5:45 pm, today, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, the bus driver of a Lassen Tour Bus bringing a group of Japanese businessmen from the airport via Highway 101 into Palo Alto noticed flames in his sideview mirror, emanating from the back of the bus. He quickly pulled over, made an announcement to his passengers and quickly evacuated the bus. Within moments the back of the tour bus was engulfed, with flames leaping twenty feet into the air and the rear tires exploding. Fire and police crews arrived and the flames were subdued with chemical retardant by 6:15.
The Media Center’s Jeff McGinnis and Stan Ng captured footage of the dramatic conflagration and its aftermath. Jeff and I were able to secure an interview with one of the Japanese businessmen at the restaurant on Charleston Road to which the group retreated to wait for another bus. Watch our interview with Nobuyuki Imai of SoftBank Telecom Corporation of Tokyo. In a nutshell, Mr. Imai said they had just arrived in the US , that the bus driver was very professional and that all remained calm. All really good news.
There were complaints of noxious fumes on San Antonio Road, with major traffic delays and diversions but no injuries have been reported as of this writing.