WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — No one was injured when a school bus caught fire on a busy freeway here on Wednesday, authorities said.
The incident occurred after 1 p.m. as the school bus was transporting students back from a field trip. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the driver noticed smoke and pulled to the shoulder, and four adults — the driver and three teachers who were on board — assisted 23 children in safely evacuating the bus before firefighters arrived.
The Fire Department said in a press release that the school bus became “well involved with fire.”
Officer Daniel Sanchez of the California Highway Patrol told SBF that the bus was a 2006 Thomas Built Type D diesel model, equipped with lap-shoulder belts. He said that no issues were reported with evacuating the students.
Sanchez noted that the school bus driver did a good job in pulling over to a safe location and getting the kids away from the bus.
“Everybody made it out safely,” Sanchez said. He added that the bus was a total loss.
The school bus was operated by contractor Safeway Enterprises, transporting fifth-grade students from St. Jude the Apostle School in Westlake Village.
Traffic was reportedly backed up in both directions on the 101 Freeway. George Rihovsky, who was driving through the area on business, described seeing a group of about 20 students in burgundy polo shirts standing next to the freeway.
“Then I saw a bunch of fire trucks and police cars on the shoulder," Rihovsky told SBF. "Then I saw the school bus. It wasn’t burning anymore, but the top half of it was all black.”
(Full disclosure: Rihovsky is the father-in-law of SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon.)
Sanchez, the California Highway Patrol officer, said that another bus arrived to pick up the students. As of press time, the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined.
“We’re still working on that,” Sanchez said.
Here are more photos of the scene from KCAL/KCBS aerial photo journalist Stu Mundel:
Woodland Hills School Bus Fire west 101 @ Winnetka Ave Kids on the bus off safe @LAFD put out the fire traffic back up building quickly. @KCBSKCALDesk @KNX1070 “the school bus fire ate my Homework” 😃 pic.twitter.com/tFexrs0g2U— stu mundel (@Stu_Mundel) March 7, 2018