School bus catches fire in Hillsborough County

7:20 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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Hillsborough County, FL - A bus taking 64 children to school caught fire on Monday morning, but fortunately nobody was hurt.

It happened around 7:00 a.m. at US 301 and Windermere Lake Drive in Riverview when the bus's engine lit up in flames. The engine in the 2002 Hillsborough School bus is in the back because it is an older and larger than average bus that carries almost 80 passengers. 

"I saw the sparks and flames," said 10th grader, 15-year-old Tiara White.

White had just gotten on the bus and was half way down the single isle to her seat when someone yelled fire and they had to all rush out. White said the bus driver helped everyone get out quickly.

"It was crowded and kids were rushing to get out. When I first figured out there was a fire and everybody was panicking, she told us to get off, I was a little bit scared."

Her bus driver said the students are the heroes because they alerted her about the fire in the engine while she was at her last stop before driving them to Spoto High School, but Tiara said the bus driver was heroic she went back twice to clear it. 

"I can tell that she cared because she made sure everyone was off the bus," said White.

Hillsborough Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja said the driver, who did not want to go on camera, went above and beyond her emergency training procedure.

"She was amazing," said Arja.  "For her to go back on that bus, which she knew was a dangerous situation, is just an amazing situation for her to put herself into especially since the flames were there."

The bus passed inspection on Nov. 8-11.  State law requires busses be checked every 28 school days but because there were three weeks of holidays this month the 28th day inspection check was set to happen on Thursday. 

Hillsborough Schools said the buses last 15-20 years. They plan to replace the bus that caught fire. 

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