VIDEO: Overheated brakes cause Alcoa school bus fire

(Courtesy: John Daining)
(Courtesy: John Daining)

ALCOA (WATE) – There were moments of shock Monday morning after a school bus caught on fire in Alcoa near Duncan Station Road and Upton.

All 29 students in kindergarten through 12th grade were rushed off the bus before it went up in flames.

(Courtesy: John Daining)
(Courtesy: John Daining)

“The bus driver noticed flames, immediately pulled over and got the students off the bus,” said Alcoa City Schools Director Brian Bell.

Nearby residents noticed what was happening and jumped into action.

“We noticed that the whole bus was starting to go up in flames so me and my roommate ran towards the bus to make sure all the kids were off,” said Chis Absher. “Once we made sure, we tried to do a little self containment ourselves and grabbed an extinguisher to put out what we could.”

Parents Desiree and Jerame Bruce had just sent their kids off to school and were starting their day didn’t know what was happening until emergency crews arrived.

“My kids go outside to get on the bus and I jump in the shower and I heard all the sirens and next thing I know I open the front door and it’s the back end of a bus on fire,” Desiree said.

Officials say their kids were not on that particular bus, but another one that came to pick up those 29 students.

According to Bell, every protocol [as far as he knows] was followed.

“I don’t think you can really prepare for every scenario that happens on a bus,” said Bell. “What we do know is that when students are in danger or if we think there is a potential safety hazard, bus drivers are prepared to think of the students first.”

Students waited outside for less than 20 minutes about a hundred feet away from the bus while a replacement bus came to take them to school. Thankfully no one was injured.

Firefighters tried to control the flames, however the bus was destroyed.

The owner of Rocky Top Bus Services, the company contracted to take Alcoa students to and from school, commends his bus driver for relying on his training, which he says complies with Tennessee Law.

The Alcoa Fire Department believes the fire was caused by a mechanical failure to the brake system and the brakes overheated as a result. The bus number was 47E.

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