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24 nursing home evacuees die in fire

WILMER, Texas, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Twenty-four nursing home patients fleeing Hurricane Rita were killed Friday when fire destroyed their bus in Wilmer, Texas.

There were reports of an explosion before the bus was engulfed in flames, WFAA-TV said.

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A Dallas County Sheriff's Department spokesman said the bus had been carrying 38 senior citizens and six care providers from the Brighton Gardens of Bellaire Nursing Home in Bellaire, Texas, a Houston suburb.

Sgt. Don Peritz, a sheriff's department spokesman, said deputies were assisting passengers "when a series of explosions occurred." He said the deputies were unable to get all of the people off the bus before it was consumed by fire.

There was speculation that a brake problem could have triggered the fire.

Some of the passengers had oxygen tanks with them, but it was not known whether that may have contributed to the intensity of the fire.

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