CHENNAI: An electric bus with 20 passengers on board went up in flames on Friday morning near Chembarambakkam on the Chennai-Bengaluru National Highway after it got sandwiched between two buses in a three-vehicle pile-up.
The passengers had a narrow escape as they immediately disembarked from the bus before it was completely engulfed by flames. Fire service officers said a circuit mishap, set off by the collision, may have triggered the blaze.
The bus, which belongs to a private travel company, was headed for Bengaluru from Koyambedu bus terminus on Friday. “Around 6 am, when the bus was near Chembarambakkam, it dashed against a government bus moving in the front after the driver of the government bus hit the brake suddenly. Another private bus that was coming behind rammed the rear of the electric bus,” a police officer said. Minutes later, after the vehicles moved past, smoke started emanating from the battery cabin in the back. After the passengers alerted driver Ambaresh, the bus was halted and they all got out of the vehicle.
Water must have triggered blast: Fire & rescue team
A private tanker lorry that was passing by was halted and some people tried to douse the flame using the water. A video recorded by a passerby showed that when people poured water on the bus, a spark occurred and a machine part blew up with a loud noise.
“We suspect the water must have triggered a battery blast,” a fire services officer said. Fire and rescue services teams from Sriperumbudur and Irunkattukottai rushed to the spot and put out the fire using chemical sprays.
“Usually, chemical sprays are used to douse fire in electric vehicles not water,” he said. Preliminary investigations said the fire could have been triggered by a circuit failure caused due to the impact of the collision. The Poonamallee traffic investigation wing police have registered a case and further investigations are on.
GreenCell mobility, the company that operated the electric bus, said all passengers were provided assistance to reach their destinations. “Our buses are in full compliance with the Central Motor Vehicle Act and have travelled over 5 crore km without any previous fire incidents,” said a press release from the firm.