Haverhill Firefighters Douse Minibus Fire on I-495 Sunday; Spilled Fuel, Presence of Propane Trigger Fear

Haverhill Fire extinguishes minibus fire on I-495 in Haverhill. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)


Haverhill firefighters extinguished a fire that “heavily involved” a minibus late Sunday morning on Interstate 495 north, near Main Street, in Haverhill.

No injuries were reported, but first responders called out just after 11:30 a.m. cited concerns about the bus’s ruptured fuel tank, which reportedly spilled up to 50 gallons, and the presence of a propane tank on the vehicle. Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien confirmed the minibus was privately owned and only the driver was onboard when the fire began.

“It appears the fire started in the engine cavity and spread,” he said.  O’Brien said it took almost two hours to clear the scene.

With freezing temperatures, Haverhill Fire called on the state Department of Transportation to send sanding trucks because of the heavy volume of water on the roadway that was used to douse the fire.

Firefighters called in an additional tanker and also used Aqueous Film-Forming Foam, as is customary where liquid flammables are involved despite fear over its toxicity. O’Brien said the foam is being phased out. North Andover Fire was asked to deliver additional foam, before the request was cancelled as the bus’s fuel burned out.

“We have a great working relationship with (North Andover) Chief (John) Weir. They maintain the foam wagon for the district, which is stored at Lawrence Airport,” he explained.

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