Engine problem caused school bus fire

SILVER SPRING, Md. – A Montgomery County public school bus caught fire earlier this week due to a problem in the engine compartment.

On Wednesday, the bus was traveling on Briggs Chaney Road in Silver Spring and headed to James Hubert Blake High School when there was a problem with the engine and the bus started to stall, says Dana Tofig, spokesman for the school system.

The bus driver pulled over to the side of the busy road and went to the rear of the bus to investigate, Tofig says.

Students and the driver started to smell smoke and within 30 seconds, Tofig says, the driver evacuated the bus out the front and side doors. The bus did not catch fire until after the kids were out safely, about 10 minutes later. Another bus picked up the kids and brought them to school, he says.

None of the students were injured.

“Our drivers are trained so that if they need to evacuate, they need to do that in a safe area as quickly as they possibly can. They receive extensive safety training, not only when they are hired but throughout the year and every year. … Evacuating students into a busy road is not a safe option,” Tofig says.

But following a transportation department review, Tofig says in this instance, it appears the driver followed procedures.

One parent told Fox5 that she was furious that she was not notified of the bus fire.

Tofig says about 85 percent of students on that bus were identified and their parents were contacted, but some parents were not notified.

“That’s something that the school and transportation department are looking into,” he says.

The aging bus did not have a camera on board. Tofig says the bus was scheduled to be retired this year.


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