COLUMBIA, S.C. — A school bus driver was able to safely evacuate kindergartners from their bus before it caught fire on Monday.
Richland School District 2 Chief Communications Officer Libby Roof told The State that the students were heading to Camp Discovery in Blythewood for a field trip when the driver noticed smoke and pulled the bus off the road. About 40 kindergarten students were on board at the time of the incident, which was around 10 a.m., WLTX reports.
The driver stopped the bus at a gas station, and everyone on board was able to evacuate the bus through the emergency exits, according to a Facebook post by Larry Johnson, a parent who was on the field trip. There was a loud explosion when the driver attempted to turn off the bus, causing her to get knocked down, and the bus then catching fire, according to Johnson. Johnson’s post was accompanied by videos of the bus being immersed in flames.
Roof told The State that thanks to the bus driver’s quick actions, all of the students, teachers, and adult chaperones on board got off the bus safely, and no injuries were reported. Johnson added that the district “did a good job” preparing the teachers for the emergency situation and getting the students away from the burning bus. Roof told the news source that a replacement bus picked up the passengers and transported them to Blythewood. She also added that the school bus is believed to be a “total loss,” and the cause of the fire has not been determined.
As SBF previously reported in January, the state Department of Education (DOE) confirmed that all of the 1995 and 1996 school bus models, which accounted for the majority of the state’s over 100 thermal events, were taken from school districts and sent to the state’s fleet office to be scrapped. The state DOE also announced its plans to replace the state's 432 aging buses, and its hopes that a share of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds could help cover the costs.
View videos of the school bus fire, posted on Johnson's Facebook page, below.