Police said no one was injured in the incident that took place around 8.15am at the Punjabi Bagh roundabout. Some passengers of the DTC bus, route number 951, (Kamla Market to West Enclave), noticed smoke coming out from behind the last the row of seats. They said by the time they could inform the conductor and the driver of the smoke, they heard an explosion after which a fire broke out in the engine.
Fire officials said they was informed about the incident around 8.30am and two fire tenders were rushed to the spot. “The fire was contained within half an hour. No injuries were reported as passengers had already come out of the vehicle,” said a fire official.
Police said the incident could have been bigger if the driver, identified as Naresh, did not turn off the valves of the CNG cylinders. Though some people claimed that the fire alarm of a Metro train had gone off after smoke emanating from the bus engulfed it, DMRC officials denied any such report.
More than 20 passengers,, including women and children, were in the bus at the time of incident. “We alerted the driver and conductor about smoke emanating from behind the seat. In less than 10 minutes, there was a blast and a major fire broke out instantly. All of us ran towards the front side and the driver parked the bus on the roadside. We also tried using the fire extinguisher in the bus but it did not work,” said one of the passengers.
Horrified passengers also said that entire bus got engulfed in the fire. They said the amount of smoke generated from the plastic material in the bus caused suffocation to a few. Some also attained minor injuries while trying to get out of the bus.
“The flames were everywhere from right on our head to the windows. It caused a little stampede sort of situation. The flames were so dangerous and of high magnitude that if there was a delay of even a minute, we would have lost lives due to suffocation. Police and fire officials had also reached the spot. Later we were provided with another bus of the same route,” said a passenger, who was to work.