UCF shuttle catches fire, students safely evacuated
The weather wasn't the only thing heated on Monday. A UCF off-campus shuttle caught fire Monday afternoon as a result of what Parking and Traffic Services believes to be a mechanical failure.
The vehicle's melted and blackened shell was stopped on Challenger Parkway and Alafaya Trail, right outside the Comfort Inn. Orange County Fire Rescue responded to douse the flames.
The driver of the shuttle pulled over, according to Parking and Traffic Services, and instructed the four students on board to get out of the vehicle when he smelled something out of the ordinary. The resulting fire started at 1:30 p.m. and led to no injuries.
"The fire spread pretty quickly," said Orlando resident Bill Reuter, a witness to the afternoon's events. "There was quite a fireball. … It caught on some of the surrounding grass. … I think the biggest concern from a lot of [the witnesses] standing in the parking lot was whether or not there was going to be any other sort of incendiary explosion or anything like that."
The Orange County Sheriff Department blocked off the road for those on Challenger Parkway heading toward Alafaya Trail.
Parking and Traffic Services lists the bus' route as Route 10, which goes from the UCF main campus, to The Lofts and Orion. A bus was sent out to take up the schedule, picking up the stranded students along the way.
Miranda's Towing came a little more than an hour after the incident to take the shuttle away.
Coincidentally, about an hour later, a car in the parking lot outside the Nike residence hall caught fire.
The car owner, who is not a student and refused to be identified, said his car had been running fine and had no idea what caused the fire. He was starting the engine when it caught fire.
UCF police officers closed down much of Libra Drive until about 3 p.m. while Orange County Fire Rescue dealt with the fire.
Kimberly Slichter is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.