VIRGINIA — A Virginia Public Schools bus caught fire Thursday morning resulting in a total loss of the vehicle. There were no injuries. No children or district employees were on board.
“Earlier this morning, we were notified that one of our district school buses currently at a repair facility for maintenance repairs started on fire during a test drive,” said the district through an automated statement sent to students, staff and parents.
According to Virginia Fire Department’s Battalion Chief Erik Jonassen, the initial dispatch came through at 10:09 a.m. when the bus caught fire traveling southbound on Highway 53, near Joy Global.
“It was in the Pike-Sandy-Britt Fire Department’s area,” Jonassen said after arriving back to the fire hall around noon. “We got our dispatch at 10:22 a.m.”
The bus had been undergoing maintenance and was being test driven by an employee of an independent third party maintenance organization.
“Only the driver was onboard when the fire broke out,” said Jonassen, “and they were able to get out without harm.”
The school district said the fire is not expected to have an impact on current bus routes.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
"We are thankful that no one was injured during the incident,” said Virginia Superintendent Dr. Noel Schmidt in an email. “We will be investigating, along with others, to determine the cause of the fire. Virginia schools runs a safe and modern fleet of buses which are well-taken care of — and we are often told during inspections that our bus fleet is the best in the area. However, something like this cannot be happening, even on buses which are undergoing maintenance from an outside vendor. We'll figure out what happened."
Responding agencies included the Virginia Fire Department, Pike-Sandy-Britt Fire Department and Mountain Iron Fire Department.