Police hunt passenger over dramatic Mid North Coast bus fire
Police are searching for a woman suspected of lighting a fire that destroyed a bus and forced the evacuation of a driver and nine passengers on the NSW Mid North Coast.
A dozen fire crews rushed to the corner of Lake and West streets in Forster after the bus fire was called in about 1.15pm on Thursday.
The blaze, which police were told started as a small fire in the onboard toilet after a passenger argued with the bus driver, had already taken hold when they arrived.
Dramatic photos appear to show flames burning at least twice as high as the bus, near power lines, and black smoke billowing above.
Chief Inspector Tony Moodie said a passenger was the first to notice smoke and warned the bus driver, who pulled over just down the road from the Forster police station.
The Forster officer-in-charge said the driver evacuated all nine passengers before finding parts of the toilet area alight. But by the time he had grabbed a fire extinguisher from the front, “the fire was quickly engulfing the bus”.
“You can see that the fire really engulfed the bus and completely destroyed the inside of it so the fact that they all got off, no one was injured, is probably good work by all involved,” Chief Inspector Moodie said.
Fire and Rescue NSW said the fire was quickly extinguished but not before the 60-seat bus was destroyed. The driver was assessed at the scene but not taken to hospital.
Police are treating the blaze as deliberately lit.
Chief Inspector Moodie said police were looking for a suspect in her mid-20s, who they believed may have argued with the driver when boarding before starting the fire.
The fire damaged power lines above the bus, knocking out power to the surrounding streets, including the local police station, for much of the day.
Chief Inspector Moodie said electricity had been restored by about 5pm