- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

NEEDLES, Calif. (AP) - A tour bus caught fire in the Southern California desert, prompting the driver and 52 passengers to evacuate before the bus became engulfed in flames.

San Bernardino County Fire officials say the bus was traveling from Laughlin, Nevada to Ventura Sunday afternoon when the bus caught fire on Interstate 40.

The bus driver said he heard what sound liked a rear tire exploding and pulled over. When he got out, he saw the back of the bus on fire.

Fire spokesman Dean Dickover said the passengers safely evacuated. One passenger had a respiratory emergency, and three others suffered heat-related problems.

Dickover said the passengers were stranded in 90-degree heat until emergency crews arrived.

The bus operated by San Luis Obispo-based Silverado Stages appeared to be a near total loss.

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