Driver gets basketball team to safety before school bus burns on Interstate 494

The bus from Richfield Middle School was inspected in December.
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Twenty people aboard a school bus that caught fire on Interstate 494 Monday in Maplewood escaped without injury. 

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the school bus – carrying a basketball team from Richfield Middle School – caught fire on northbound I-494 at Carver Avenue around 3:30 p.m.

Richfield Middle School issued a release saying the bus was transporting a seventh-grade boys' basketball team to a game in Maplewood when the bus caught fire. 

"The driver smelled smoke and saw smoke coming in through the bus vents. He immediately pulled over and evacuated the students. All students and staff were safely evacuated," the school said. 

The students were transferred to a working bus and brought back to Richfield Middle School where they were met by their families. 

“We are extremely grateful that there were no injuries and that our driver was able to quickly and calmly evacuate students,” said Superintendent Steven Unowsky. “His swift and decisive actions ensured students and staff were safe.”

The district bus was only four years old and went through an annual inspection by the Minnesota State Patrol in December. 

The driver has 18 years of experience transporting Richfield students. 

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