BRADENTON -- A van caught on fire Thursday afternoon in Bradenton near 75th Street West and Manatee Avenue West.
"The thing was just melted on the road," said Bradenton resident Danny Dryna, who was on the way to someone's house when he saw the 1956 GMC panel van in the westbound lane of Manatee Avenue West at about 2:30 p.m.
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene right before 2 p.m. Thursday, according to Bradenton Fire Marshal Kenneth Langston.
"There were no injuries," Langston said, adding that the cause of the fire was not suspicious.
Information on the driver was not available.
"The engine caught on fire and it spread through the vehicle," Langston said. "It's not unusual to have vehicle fires. It happens pretty often."
Dryna, a 38-year-old Bradenton Herald press operator, stood on the scene for about 15 minutes. He lent his cell phone to the van owner to call for help.
"He's a little hippie, barefoot, shorts, no shirt, headband that looked like it was cut out of a pillowcase," Dryna said. "He was the best spirited guy in the world."
Dryna never got the owner's name.
The owner told Dryna the carburetor caught on fire. He tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but the blaze was too strong. Soon, fire and ambulance trucks arrived on the scene. Dryna said even the Florida Department of Transportation was there.
"They must have been in the area," Dryna said.
Dryna took a few photos. The bus was colored in wavy lines of yellow, red, and grey -- but its front was completed charred and eaten by the blaze. The left side of the bus suffered considerably less damage than its right side, half of which was destroyed.
"it's unrecognizable now," Dryna said, adding that it looked like some sort of beach bus.
Dryna added that the bus owner seemed fine. He wasn't laughing, but he was in very good spirits, Dryna said.
The bus was later towed away by Sarasota-based Advanced Towing.
"I've seen crazy stuff," Dryna said, "but not exactly that."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.