Beaufort High athletes unhurt after bus breaks down, catches fire during trip home

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 17, 2013 

An activity bus carrying the Beaufort High School girls' varsity volleyball team broke down Tuesday night and subsequently caught fire during the trip home from a game at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville. No students were hurt, according to Beaufort County School District spokesman Jim Foster.

The bus -- carrying 35 passengers including the players and three coaches -- was just south of the Ravenel area when the driver smelled "something funny" and stopped, Foster said. The driver did not find anything amiss during an inspection of the outside of the bus and continued the drive home, Foster said.

Soon afterward, around 7:45 p.m., a passing motorist signaled the bus driver that there were sparks coming from the right rear wheel well, Foster said. The driver stopped and saw that the wheel well was sparking and smoldering, Foster said.

The driver then ordered everyone off the bus.

The driver called a local fire department after a fire extinguisher did not stop the smoldering. Before the fire department arrived, the smoldering became flames, Foster said. He could not provide a specific location for the bus.

Foster said there was "pretty significant" smoke and heat damage to the bus, but did not have an estimate of those damages Tuesday night.

The students and coaches waited about an hour until a second bus arrived to pick them up, Foster said. That bus arrived back at the high school around 10 p.m., and Principal Corey Murphy and Athletic Director Jerry Linn met it.

A wrecker has been sent to tow the damaged bus back to the county to be repaired, Foster said.

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