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T bus catches fire in Everett; blaze is 4th in 5 weeks

No riders are hurt; officials seek cause

An MBTA bus carrying 15 riders caught fire yesterday in Everett, the fourth blaze in the past five weeks that has involved an older-model T bus while it was on the road.

No passengers were injured yesterday or in any of the three previous blazes. The T did not have a damage estimate for yesterday's fire. It also had not determined the cause of the fire.

The Route 110 bus was traveling from the Wonderland Station on the Blue Line to the Wellington Station on the Orange Line at about 4:20 p.m. when the driver of a bus behind it noticed smoke in the rear engine compartment, said Joe Pesaturo, spokesman for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. That driver radioed in, and dispatchers notified the Route 110 driver of the problem when the bus was at the intersection of Elm and Washington streets, near the Revere line.

The vehicle is a 1994 Rapid Transit Service model manufactured by Nova Bus of Quebec.

It is among the oldest in the T fleet, which has been updated with hundreds of buses made by other companies.

Three other Rapid Transit Service model buses operated by the T have caught fire since Sept. 1. On that day, an inbound commuter bus was destroyed by a fire that was reportedly sparked by an electrical problem in the engine. It snarled rush-hour traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

A bus burned Sept. 14 on the turnpike. That fire was attributed to a burned-out air-conditioning compressor.

The third fire occurred Sept. 22 on an out-of-service bus at Sullivan Square. That blaze was attributed to a fuel line in the engine.

After the third fire, the MBTA inspected all of the fuel lines in its Rapid Transit Service buses, about 390. None were damaged, but some brackets holding the fuel lines were replaced.

Pesaturo said yesterday evening that it was too early to discuss what actions the T might take in response to the latest fire. ''The bus has been towed to the garage for inspection," he said. ''We need some time to do an investigation."

With no common link among the first three fires, Pesaturo said, there has not been a reason to yank the Rapid Transit Service buses off the road. The authority has plans to replace many of the older buses in coming years as it continues modernizing its fleet.

Lucas Wall can be reached at lwall@globe.com.

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