Every day that children are sent off to school, parents trust that they will make the journey to their classes safely and without incident.
Bus drivers play a major role in that trust: they have to make decisions to keep their charges safe, and as we all know, driving is dangerous. So many things can happen in such a short amount of time.
It was just a normal day for the Alma Bryant High and Grand Bay Middle school students, who were on the bus heading home from school.
Two students had just been dropped off when the bus driver saw something alarming.
Smoke started pouring from underneath the bus. Without stopping to think, the bus driver told everyone they needed to get off.
“I was just sitting there, then some girl said there was a lot of smoke coming from up front,” student Jordan Bowman said. “Then I got up, she said there’s a fire under it.”
Students frantically left out of the back doors of the bus, since it was the front that caught on fire. When they got outside, they saw the flames licking up the exterior.
“It looked like it was a small fire… Like straw burning from down the road, then pulling up on it I was like ‘man the bus is on fire,'” Joshua Hicks, who happened to be driving by, told WALA.
“So I pulled over, watched it and made sure everyone got off quickly and safely,” he concluded.
The fire blazed for a while, then the tires caught. When the pressure was too much, they burst in a fiery explosion.
“These fires don’t happen. I’ve only responded to two in my career. But the biggest challenge is the tires,” Chief Grayling Christian of the Grand Bay Fire Department said.
“You have to watch them. We had two explode today on the front side,” He continued. “You have to be careful around them, plus you have all of the hazardous smoke coming out of the exterior.”
After the fire department got the flames under control, they had the bus towed away for further examination. Officials said that this bus is only five years old.
There’s clearly a problem with this model of school bus. Two years ago, another bus in the same fleet caught fire.
That time, 15 students were rushed away from the flames. Investigations are being carried out to determine what might be causing these issues.
Thankfully, during this newer incident, the bus driver was able to evacuate these 24 kids in time. Many in the community are calling the anonymous driver a hero for their quick reaction to the situation.
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