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School bus bursts into flames while dropping kids off

By Melanie Johnson

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    ST. LOUIS, Missouri (KMOV) — A ride home for University City students seemed routine until a school bus burst into flames moments before everyone escaped just in time.

The bus went up in smoke Wednesday afternoon as Brittany Woods Middle School students were heading home. Eighth-grader Jaidyn Conners was on board when the driver stopped near Lynn and Lamb Avenues when smoke swirled from under the bus’ hood.

“It was kind of scary because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had to hurry up and get off the bus,” Conners said.

Jaidyn’s mother, Dana, said she hasn’t heard a word from the school district since the frightening scenario.

“This could have been a whole different outcome. We could have really been mourning the loss of our kids. That fast so I’m just so thankful,” Danna Conners said. “A better emergency plan needs to be put in place I feel because right now I still haven’t heard from the school district and I still haven’t heard from transportation. I’ve talked to other parents who had children who were on the bus and no one has reached out to us.”

The heat combined with massive flames forced firefighters to dispatch more manpower. University City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jon Bollinger said the smoke appeared that it “could have been a house fire based on how much smoke produced from that fire alone.”

It took two crews to put it out. Bollinger believes the fire started in the engine compartment and made its way into the cab.

Bollinger acknowledged the bus driver whose quick actions.

“His first action was to stop what he was doing and get everybody to safety and it makes our job that much easier,” he said.

News 4 received the following statement from the school district:

Student safety should never be in jeopardy. The District is working with its bus service provider, Missouri Central, to investigate the cause. District officials responded to the scene when a mechanical issue causing a fire was reported on the bus. A replacement bus transported the five students safely home. A thorough investigation is underway in collaboration with the bus service provider, Missouri Central, and other appropriate parties. Students safely exited the bus prior to the fire. The district is very grateful to University City Fire Department, which responded immediately to ensure the safety of the students and nearby residents. This is a very unfortunate incident as the district continues to prioritize the safety and well-being of students.

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