MARLBORO TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Transit says a bus driver and eight passengers safely escaped when a bus caught fire while traveling on a major highway in central Jersey.

Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says the fire occurred early Sunday as bus 139 traveled southbound on Route 9 in Marlboro Township.

An NJ Transit bus. (NJ Transit)

The driver noticed smoke coming from a rear wheel and pulled over. The driver then saw flames in the rear wheel well, and the bus was quickly evacuated.

Firefighters soon extinguished the blaze, but officials say the bus was destroyed.

The bus had departed from the Port Authority terminal in New York City and was headed to Lakewood. The eight passengers aboard were put on another bus to complete their journey.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.