A church school bus caught fire early Saturday morning on southbound Interstate 65 near Lowell, forcing 16 teenagers and two chaperones to flee the bus.

LOWELL — A church school bus caught fire in Northwest Indiana early Saturday, forcing everyone on board to flee the burning vehicle, according to state police.

At about 12:54 a.m. Saturday, the bus — owned by Herscher Christian Church of Herscher, Illinois — was southbound on I-65 near Lowell when the driver, Sue A. Stevenson, 47, of Cabrey, Illinois, noticed "sparks coming from the right rear tire," according to Indiana State Police. 

As she pulled the bus over onto the shoulder, the right back tire caught fire and everyone on board — 16 teenagers and their two chaperones — fled the bus before the fast-moving flames fully engulfed the vehicle. 

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Everyone was taken by two state troopers and a towing company to a nearby Lowell business so they could make arrangements to get home. 

Southbound I-65 lanes in the area were closed for approximately two hours for extinguishing the fire, clean-up, and removal of the bus, according to state police. 

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