Bus fire leaves Marines en route to Nashville stranded on I-24
MARION COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVC) - A bus fire near Monteagle Mountain has left approximately 40 U.S. Marines stranded on Interstate 24.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Programs Sgt. Alan Bailey tells NewsChannel 9 that westbound I-24 has been shut down at mile marker 136 due to a charter bus that is fully engulfed in flames.
It is unclear what caused the fire, but it has been confirmed that the bus was not involved in a crash.
The Marines were safely removed from the bus and no one was injured.
Bailey tells NewsChannel 9 that Grundy County Director of Transportation Billy Moon has a school bus headed to the scene to pick up the Marines and get them off of the interstate. Officials with the Town of Monteagle helped feed the Marines during a community fundraiser barbecue that was being held at a local park.
Yarbrough confirmed that the Marines were traveling from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina to Nashville for Marine Week.
Nathan Suchy was one of the Marines on the bus. He says they smelled something burning, and saw smoke coming from the back of the bus. Suchy says they alerted the bus driver, who pulled over.
"Everyone got off," said Nathan Suchy. "Everyone got all their gear. Everything was accounted for. Made sure we did headcounts probably five or six times."
When Monteagle firefighters arrived - they say the Marines were all off the bus. By that point, Chief Mike Holmes says the bus was fully engulfed.
"There's 40 Marines standing on the side of the interstate cheering when we pull up in a firetruck." said Mike Holmes. "Which is odd for them to cheer for us - because we usually cheer for them."
With a strong sense of patriotism - the Monteagle fire department served those who serve our country.
"It was a role reversal for sure- and an honor as well," said Holmes.
The department was preparing for its Labor Day fundraiser when they got the call about the flaming bus.
"The food we bought for the fundraiser - we fed them - we entertained them with some corn hole," said Holmes.
For a few hours - the Monteagle community took care of the Marines and enjoyed their company at the barbecue. A replacement bus came - and brought them on their way to Nashville - but not before a bond formed.
"One by one they shook our hands - thanked us for what we do and what we were doing," said Suchy. "And we thanked them the same way. And at the end of the lunch we all prayed together."