IRVING, Texas — Two students, a monitor and a school bus driver were safely evacuated from a school bus before it became engulfed in flames Wednesday morning in Irving, according to officials with the Coppell Independent School District.
Officials say the bus driver pulled over after noticing smoke coming from the bus engine at about 6:55 a.m. as they were headed toward Valley Ranch Elementary School.
Authorities were called and the students, monitor and driver evacuated the bus at the State Highway 161 service road and Sierra Drive. The bus then caught fire and became engulfed in flames. Firefighters arrived at the scene and extinguished the blaze.
"I want to personally commend the bus driver and bus monitor from our school bus partner, Durham School Services, for following safety protocol and ensuring that the students were safe," said Brad Hunt, superintendent with the Coppell Independent School District, in a statement released later in the afternoon. "We are fortunate to have such strong drivers and safety monitors."
While the monitor reported a sore throat, there were no serious injuries during the incident.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Full statement from Superintendent Brad A. Hunt on the fire and the investigation:
Dear Coppell ISD Families,
I want to update you on this morning's school bus fire in Irving involving a route on its way to Valley Ranch Elementary. As we shared earlier, at approximately 6:55 a.m. this morning, a school bus driver noticed smoke coming from the bus engine. He followed safety protocol by pulling over safely, and he and the bus monitor quickly evacuated the two student bus riders and themselves from the bus. The authorities were notified immediately. The bus then caught on fire, and the Irving Fire Department responded quickly to the scene. All who were on the bus were safe, and no injuries were reported on scene. The parents of the two students were notified immediately, as was Valley Ranch Elementary, district personnel and our CISD parents and guardians via social media, the CISD website and via email. After leaving the scene, the bus monitor later reported having a sore throat, and has received medical attention and is at home recovering.
I want to personally commend the bus driver and bus monitor from our school bus partner, Durham School Services, for following safety protocol and ensuring that the students were safe. We are fortunate to have such strong drivers and safety monitors. I also want to thank the Irving Fire Department for their quick response to the scene, and for getting the fire out quickly and ensuring all surrounding the incident were safe.
We are still investigating the cause of this morning’s fire. However, I want to assure you that we take the safety of our bus riders very seriously. Durham School Services, which provides the bus drivers and maintenance of our CISD-owned buses, is following its protocol after this incident as well. Today, Durham has performed safety inspections on the three CISD buses that are of the same make, model and fuel type of the one involved in this morning’s fire. Durham is also going to perform additional safety inspections of the entire bus fleet. This inspection is in addition to the regular inspections of our buses that occur every 120 days by Durham. In addition, Durham performs multi-point inspections on buses twice a year.
Again, I want to commend the bus driver for following the safety protocols in place and for his efforts today to ensure the two students, bus monitor and himself were evacuated safely. I thank him for a job well done. All of Durham School Services bus drivers receive annual safety training and attend monthly safety meetings. This is in addition to the 20 hours of safety training and 20 hours of driving training they receive before they drive a CISD bus. They also must take a 20 hour safety course from the Texas Education Agency, and then eight hours of continuing education training from TEA every three years.
I know you as the Coppell ISD community join me in being grateful that everyone is safe in this situation. Thank you for all you do in support of our district and schools.
Superintendent Brad A. Hunt