North Carolina Bus Fires a Growing Problem?

It was a horrific scene: a fire on a Charlotte school bus with elementary children on board.

It happened earlier this month, and thankfully, the driver was able to quickly get all six of the children safely outside, just seconds before the bus burst into flames.

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The children were on their way home from Chantilly Montessori Elementary School when the North Carolina bus accident happened.

The driver was applauded by the school district spokeswoman, who said the driver followed all procedures, adding that the scenario could have unfolded very differently had the driver not reacted quickly.

Images from the scene show the school bus fully-engulfed in thick clouds of black smoke – a terrifying picture for any parent.

Our North Carolina bus accident attorneys know the incident may seem like an odd, but rare occurrence. But in fact, as Charlotte 9 on Your Side investigators reported, there have been six bus fires in North Carolina over the last two years.

The station began its investigation into the bus fire situation last year, and concluded that four of the buses were Freightliner, Thomas buses that were more than a decade old. All four had been caused by electrical problems in the engine.

In the most recent instance, the reporters discovered this was the same type of bus. However, authorities think the fire may have started as a result of a problem with the heater, rather than the electrical wiring.

This is of little consolation for parents whose young children ride those buses every day.
Derek Graham, who is the chief of transportation for the state’s schools, said officials in his office are going to be looking for recommendations for anything the district should be doing in order to avoid another bus fire.

Considering, though, that these bus fires continue to occur, it seems strange that more action wouldn’t be taken. After all, six incidents in two years would seem to indicate a trend that should be acted upon by school officials. While no students have been injured in these instances, it seems it may only be a matter of time. Is that a chance the district is willing to take?

Graham responded to the news station’s questioning on this by saying that they “don’t have any reason to believe that those buses need to be taken off.” He said the buses are inspected every 30 days, and the district mechanics were notified of the most recent fire and to be on the lookout for any future issues.

Graham went on to say that there is no evidence this is an increasing trend, saying the Charlotte school bus fire was an isolated incident.

In that case, according to CNN, the driver smelled a burning scent, and pulled over to look into it. That’s when she noticed smoke was creeping into the bus from under the dash, and hurried the students off the bus. She said the students, ages 5 to 10, remained calm, and got off the bus one-by-one through the rear, emergency exit. They then walked to a safe distance away, but could still see as the bus ignited into a fireball, with flames shooting out the windows and through the roof.

The driver’s quick-thinking likely saved these students. But how long before a similar incident in North Carolina proves deadly?

School officials maintain buses are still the safest mode of transportation for students. Our North Carolina bus accident attorney want, at the very least, for parents to be aware.

If you or your child has been involved in a North Carolina school bus accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices, P.A. today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965. Serving North and South Carolina, including Charlotte, Morganton and Winston-Salem.

Additional Resources:

Are Bus Fires a Growing Problem in NC?, By Jonathan Rodriguez, WNCT

More Blog Entries:
Students at increased risk of North Carolina school bus accidents as classes begin

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