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Bus carrying wrestling team burns in western WI

Authorities say the team from the Milwaukee School of Engineering was returning home from a meet in northern Minnesota Saturday when their bus caught on fire.

BARRON, Wis. — A Wisconsin college wrestling team was forced to grapple with more than their opponents after a coach bus exploded into flames Saturday evening in Barron County. 

It happened shortly before 8 p.m. on Highway 53 near the intersection with Highway 8, not far from the community of Cameron. The Milwaukee School of Engineering wrestling team was returning home from a meet in northern Minnesota when their bus caught fire. 

The driver pulled over and everyone aboard was able to escape the burning vehicle. Highway 53 was shut down for several hours while the scene was investigated and cleaned up. The Barron County Sheriff's Department Facebook page says the grapplers were transported to the sheriff's office to warm up and chow down on snacks while a replacement bus was dispatched. 

"We are very thankful all of our players and coaching staff were able to safely exit the vehicle and there were no injuries," said MSOE Director of Athletics Brian Miller. "It was a long night for everyone as they waited for a new bus to arrive and bring them back to campus. We thank the Barron County Sherriff’s Department and the area fire departments for their assistance in keeping our student-athletes safe and warm."

A parent of a team member told CBS 58 in Milwaukee that some of the athletes were forced to evacuate the bus without shoes and coats to protect them from the cold. Most of their personal belongings burned in the fire, including phones and laptop computers brought on the trip so the wrestlers could study for midterms. 

A spokesperson for AccuTrans Group, the charter bus company, says an investigation into what caused the fire is underway.   

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