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Small fire on bus carrying Hastings boys soccer team closes lane of 35E

A bus carrying the Hastings boys soccer team to their game in Roseville Thursday night caught fire, shutting down one lane of Interstate 35E during rush-hour traffic in St. Paul. The fire was minor and was quickly extinguished by the bus driver and the St. Paul Fire Department.

A brake line had apparently ruptured. Every time the bus driver applied the brakes on the bus, brake fluid was hitting the brake pads, and flames would flare up.

By the time the bus driver, Bill Ziemer, pulled it over, smoke was visible from the rear of the bus. Ziemer had been preparing the team for an emergency exit, so when he pulled over, everyone knew what to do.

"Bill deserves a lot of credit," Hastings coach Shane Lanning said. "He knew exactly what to do. He was a step ahead, even while he was driving. He was telling everyone, if (we have to exit the bus), everyone go out single file through the back door.

"I took the boys and he took the bus and everyone was just fine."

Ziemer grabbed the fire extinguisher in the bus and began spraying down the area. A Ramsey County Sheriff deputy pulled up and grabbed an extinguisher. Soon after, the St. Paul Police and St. Paul Fire Departments were on hand, too.

The team was stuck on the side of the road for about 40 minutes. The bus company ended up sending a new bus up to the team. The Raiders got to their game about 20 minutes late and ended up losing, 7-1.