BARRINGTON — A bus fire on the New Jersey Turnpike caused big delays in South Jersey on Sunday afternoon.

The fire started in the wheel well of the bus as it traveled on the southbound side of the Turnpike near exit 3 for Route 168 in Barrington around 11:35 a.m., according to Sgt. Lawrence Peele, a spokesman for the State Police.

All the passengers on board the bus got off the bus safely without injury, according to Peele, and were taken on another bus to a nearby service area and then continued their trip. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

The fire caused rubbernecking delays in both directions. All lanes were blocked for a time to allow for firefighters to put the fire out.

Video of the fire showed smoke coming from the back of the charter bus which had "First Priority" written on the side. A Google search showed First Priority Trailways is based in Forestville, Maryland.

Two other similar buses were parked along the shoulder with passengers off the bus.

A person who answered the phone at First Priority said no one was available to speak with the media on weekends.

The 175 students on board the three buses were from the Visual and Performing Arts program at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, MD, PTSA president Rosanna Weaver told New Jersey 101.5. The bus that caught fire was carrying musical instruments which were damaged by the flames.

She said the students were returning home from the program's annual trip to New York City where they saw "Wicked" on Broadway and visited a Jim Henson exhibit. The VPA program at Northwestern is named for the creator of the Muppets and Northwestern alumni

Many students said they lost personal items including laptops, according to Weaver

TV's Dr. Oz stopped by the fire scene as he drove by, according to his Facebook, and took video of students on board the bus running along the side of the Turnpike as the fire intensified.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

 

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