Education

Kindergartners on field trip rescued from burning bus by driver, Richland 2 schools say

SC school bus engulfed in flames

A school bus taking kindergarten students on a field trip started smoking before catching on fire, after the students and all other occupants safely exited.
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A school bus taking kindergarten students on a field trip started smoking before catching on fire, after the students and all other occupants safely exited.

A South Carolina school bus carrying kindergarten students to a field trip caught on fire Monday, according to Richland School District 2.

Because of the quick actions of the bus driver, all of the students, teachers and adult chaperones on board escaped injury, Richland 2 Chief Communications Officer Libby Roof told The State.

Roof said the students were heading to Camp Discovery in Blythewood when the driver noticed smoke and pulled the bus off the road.

The bus stopped at a gas station, and everyone got off through the emergency exits, according to a Facebook post by Larry Johnson, a parent who was on the field trip.

Johnson’s Facebook post includes videos of the bus being engulfed in flames.

“As soon as the driver stopped, teachers opened the emergency doors and I hopped off and started grabbing kids,” Johnson told The State.

Everyone was safely off the bus when smoke turned into fire, and no injuries were reported, Roof said. About 40 kindergarten students were on the field trip when the incident occurred around 10 a.m., WLTX reported.

Roof praised the quick reaction of the driver, telling The State, “I’m very thankful for the bus driver and all they did to make sure all the students and passengers got off safe.”

Johnson credited the teachers for doing a good job getting the children far away from the burning bus and gas pumps, telling The State Richland 2 did a good job preparing the educators for the emergency situation.

The state-owned yellow school bus is believed to be a total loss, according to Roof. She said the cause of the fire has not been determined.

The fire did not prevent the students from going on their field trip, as a replacement bus picked the passengers up and took them to Blythewood, Roof said.

“The devil is not gonna stop this show,” Johnson said in his post. “We’ve got another bus and we’re headed to our destination.”

The state’s schools chief says replacing mid-90s school buses that are prone to catching on fire is a top priority, but S.C. spending on buses is expected to fall short. In 2007, state lawmakers adopted a 15-year replacement cycle that the state l

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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