School bus burns to the ground, students ok

Taken by KLTV 7 Photojournalist Arthur Clayborn
Taken by KLTV 7 Photojournalist Arthur Clayborn

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

OVERTON, TX (KLTV) -   The driver, two bus monitors and six children on the bus were able to get out. The bus, Umholtz says, then burned to the ground.

Umholtz says the bus is not even a year old. He says the bus has had electrical problems and has been in and out of the repair shop. The school district says all the children have been taken home. No one was injured in the fire.

A school bus, less than a year old, caught fire with students on board, on County Road 1114. Fortunately, the driver, two bus monitors and six children on the bus were able to get out. The bus caught fire in Rusk County outside of Overton at around 1:30pm.

In the eight years Kim Daniels has been a bus driver she has never dealt with anything like this.
She was finishing up her route when noises started to come from under hood and engine lights started flashing. Initially, everyone thought the bus was overheating, but seconds later it became obvious there was a bigger problem. The charred remains of the bus are all that's left after being gutted by a short but intense blaze.

By the time red smoke starting pouring out from under the hood, the bus driver had all six students and her assistant out through the emergency exit. Members of Overton Fire Department responded within 10 minutes of it igniting, but by the time they arrived the bus was unsalvageable.

It was the driver's quick reactions that really kept the kids safe.

"Black smoke was going everywhere, the sky was going black," said Shansley Pless.

"It was pretty intense fire from the fuel and the tires on the front and the window frames made out of aluminum that's what melted out on the road there," said Greg Wall, Overton's assistant fire chief.

Now surprisingly, of the buses in Overton ISD's fleet, the 77 passenger was its newest, at just a year old. Insurance will cover its $89,000 price tag, so luckily a replacement is on the way.

Officials believe the fire began close to the engine in the front of the bus, and while faulty wiring is suspected the cause is still unknown.

Fire investigators will be looking into the cause over the next 10 days.

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