OC Transpo Bus Fire

Sometime strange things happen riding the OC Transpo bus service in Ottawa. A few years ago, in late September after finishing work at a Photography store in Kanata, my OC Transpo bus decided to blow up. Well, not the entire bus, just the engine. But still, it was quite an experience. While riding near the back of the 118 Hurdman at around 9:25pm the bus was passing through the large stretch of forest along Robertson Rd. (between Kanata and Bells Corners) and all of a sudden there was a loud pop/bang and the rear of the bus lifted for a moment. The bus driver continued on for a minute or two to reach the city, as I figure he didn’t want to stop in the middle of nowhere to figure out what happened. Smelly grey smoke began to waft through the back paneling as we pulled to a stop near Richmond and Westcliffe Rd. Everyone was calm, just trying to figure out what just occurred and exited the bus with belongings and frayed nerves.

Luckily, I had my camera backpack with me (come on, working at a photography store and attending Algonquins Photography program- what else would you expect? :P) and took out my DSLR camera with external flash and began documenting the self destruction of the rear half of the bus where the engine sits.

The smoke became more and more prominent, and billowed into the night sky.
An engine fire causes black smoke to billow into the night sky from the rear of an OC Transpo public bus. (Stephen Harrison)

Then bright sparks and flame began appearing.
An engine in a bus explodes and catches fire at night. (Stephen Harrison)

At that point it was more of a spectacle, as the passengers and driver all watched as the bus spewed flames. Not something you see every day. Funnily the driver was not alarmed; he kind of shrugged it off as if it was an everyday occurrence with OC Transpo. In fact he made a comment along the lines of (paraphrasing) “Oh well, there goes another one…”.

Fire crews were alerted, and the pros went to work. Flares where laid to alert traffic, hoses were hooked up, masks put on. Then it was showtime. After spraying quite a bit of water onto the bus, two firefighters moved in and lifted the panel to access the engine compartment. Whoosh! The intake of oxygen produced a large plume of fire that almost overcame the fireman as seen in the next two images.
A fireman opens the back panel of a bus as large flames blaze from the engine. (Stephen Harrison)
A fireman opens the back panel of a bus as large flames blaze from the engine. (Stephen Harrison)

Expletives where yelled, some by the onlookers, but also by the firemen. They quickly regained their composure and began battling the blaze with a torrent of water.
Fire crews spray water on an engine fire on a bus. (Stephen Harrison)

5 minutes later it was all over and all that was left to do was to inspect the damage and figure out the cause.
Fire crews inspect the engine compartment to determine the cause of a engine fire. (Stephen Harrison)
Fire crews inspect the engine compartment to determine the cause of a engine fire. (Stephen Harrison)

After about 30 minutes (and when the popcorn was all finished) another bus came along and the passengers hopped on board and went on with their evening. Just another night riding the OC Transpo I guess.

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3 Responses to “OC Transpo Bus Fire”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bridget Cort and I Hate OC Transpo, Stephen Harrison. Stephen Harrison said: Boom! Recalling the night my OC Transpo bus blew up! http://bit.ly/hnmsC6 @iHateOCTranspo @Photoshelter #octranspo […]

  2. Ryan Grant says:

    hey great shots! im jsut wondering what program do you use to watermark your photos , on a side note its pretty sad when im a student mechanic at OC Transpo and i never knew there was a electrical panel above the engine on those buses ๐Ÿ˜› to bad they’re all gone though

  3. Hi Ryan, thanks for your kind comments. The photos are watermarked automatically through my online photo hosting company PhotoShelter. It’s a custom watermark I’ve uploaded and gets automatically overlaid on each image. It’s a feature than can be disabled on the user end, and has options for placement (ie. center, lower right etc.) I mentioned this photo service provider briefly here: http://photoblog.harrisonpictures.com/2010/06/17/digital-asset-management/ Good luck in your studies as well. Regards, Stephen.

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