Massive bus fire still a mystery; CMS plans to inspect 250 buses

Massive bus fire still a mystery; CMS plans to inspect 250 buses

A massive Charlotte-Mecklenburg bus fire last week has the district taking steps to ensure students are safe while aboard school buses.

District officials announced Thursday that they will be inspecting 250 school, activity and spare buses with engines similar to the one that caught fire.

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More than a dozen South Mecklenburg High School students were on board a bus on Dunlavin Way in east Charlotte when flames and smoke started pouring out of the front of the bus. Everyone got off the bus safely.

An investigation found that there’s no clear indication of what caused the engine of the school bus to ignite, which led officials to the decision to inspect the 250 buses.

Inspectors will examine the wiring area of the buses to determine if there is any kind of failure.

"They definitely need to make sure safety cautions are in place,” parent Carol Harvey said.

Parents question the inspection process.

“How old are the buses and what kind of maintenance are they doing on a regular basis?" Harvey said, "I would like to see some paperwork and know that it's actually being done.”

By law, public school buses have to be inspected every 30 days.

In June, the state randomly inspected 10 percent of CMS buses and nearly half of the buses inspected had to be taken out of service for repairs.

"I would just like to see where this ends,” parent Nikki Rohloff said.

This school year, about 127,000 students take a CMS bus to and from school.

The district has a fleet of more than 1,000 buses.

CMS statement:

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools transportation appreciates the assistance of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Transportation Services Section during the investigation of the cause of the fire of school bus # 364 on Oct. 19, 2017.

The investigation of the incident has concluded with no clear indication of what caused the engine of the school bus to ignite.

A top priority of the district is to ensure the safety of students and staff on board any CMS bus.

As a proactive measure, CMS is inspecting 250 school buses, activity buses and spare buses with similar engine types.

These inspections are closely examining the wiring area of those buses, to determine if there is any indication of a failure.

The inspection of these buses is ongoing and so far, CMS transportation staff have not found any areas of concern.The district is grateful that all students and the driver were able to evacuate the school bus safely and no physical injuries were reported."

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