Klamath County, Ore. – The Klamath County School District has suspended 14 buses due to safety issues following two separate bus fires.
District officials said two buses of the same make, model and year caught fire after they finished their routes. One caught fire on December 14, the other on February 7.
“It’s important for people to know we’re taking this serious,” said Superintendent Greg Thede. “Safety is our number one concern.”
Both fires happened while the buses were parked at bus drivers’ homes. The district explained that outlying school bus drivers typically park buses at their homes, instead of the transportation department headquarters.
The first incident occurred around 9:00 a.m. on December 14 in Merrill. District officials said the driver parked the bus after the morning route, went inside his home and returned a short time later to find smoke coming from the back of the bus. The fire was put out with the assistance of firefighters.
According to KCSD, the second incident occurred after an afternoon route in Malin on February 7. The driver parked her bus in a hay barn at around 3:25 p.m. Roughly five hours later, a neighbor saw flames in the hay barn emanating from the bus. The fire was put out, but not before causing extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the bus.
The district said both buses were part of a group of 16 purchases in 2005. Out an abundance of caution, the remaining 14 buses were sidelined on Wednesday.
The KCSD transportation supervisor used reserve buses in the district’s 90-bus feet to replace the out of commission buses.
The district is currently investigating with the assistance of the Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office, the Oregon Department of Education, the district’s insurance agency and the bus manufacturer. The fires are considered accidental.
“The students will not get back on those buses until we’re absolutely sure they’re safe,” said Thede.