BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Central Jackson County Fire spokesman Eddie Saffel said that fire crews were called to the intersection of Ridge Creek and Cumberland around 3 p.m on Thursday.
Cell phone video captured the moment flames tore through the yellow school bus.
“A big pop and you heard the glass breaking and falling it was it was pretty intense,” Angela DeBarthe, an eyewitness said.
On Friday, the Blue Springs School district said there were five high school students on board when smoke began to fill the bus at the end of its route.
“The bus driver was definitely calm. It seemed like he knew what he was doing he got all the kids out really quickly I was so impressed with how he took charge and got everyone out quickly and they listened right away the kids kind of scattered,” DeBarthe said.
The bus driver is a former firefighter.
“He walked the length of the bus to make sure nothing was in there,” DeBarthe said.
It didn’t take long for firefighters with the Central Jackson County Fire Protection District to extinguish the flames.
Investigators at this point are deeming the fire suspicious because there weren’t any mechanical issues, CJCFD Assistant Fire Chief Eddie Saffell said.
“It started in the back and it started at the level that it wasn't a brake issue, a wheel issue, it wasn't an engine fire,” Steve Brown. Director of Transportation at the Blue Springs School District said.
Saffiel said the interior of the bus is destroyed, causing an estimated 10 to 15 thousand dollars worth of damage.
The district said bus number 109 is now considered a total loss. But in a fleet of 140 school busses it won’t impact the district’s daily operations.
“A lot of people go through their whole career not seeing one happen like this so fortunately this is the first and I hope it is the last,” Brown said.
Back in the Cumberland Falls neighborhood, Debarthe is extremely grateful for the bus driver’s bravery and the fire crews quick response.
“Luckily no one was hurt, luckily no houses caught fire nearby so it was a great blessing,” she said.
The school district added they do evacuation drills twice a year to prepare for situations like the one on Thursday.