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State, local officials to probe bus fire

Faulty fuel line eyed as cause

Faulty fuel line eyed as cause

May 23, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Local and state school officials will investigate Tuesday's fire on a Jefferson County Schools bus to determine how it started, said Robert Boylan, coordinator of transportation for the school system.

Although Boylan said school officials "won't assume anything" until they look into the situation further, Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said late Tuesday afternoon that the fire might have been caused by a faulty fuel line.

Local school officials will review maintenance records for the 1997 International Transit bus as part of their investigation, although nothing unusual had been found in the records as of Tuesday, said Boylan.

The state investigation will be headed by the Department of Education, although that probe might not be completed for some time, Nichols said.

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The driver of the bus, Billie Jo Elliott, is respected for her emphasis on bus safety and was praised for her quick response to get the 54 students off the bus.

Although all bus drivers are required to conduct two evacuation drills a year, Elliott conducts many more, Boylan said.

"That's the reason it went so well today. She's been an excellent driver," Boylan said.

The bus was used earlier in the morning to transport students to Jefferson High School and Charles Town Middle School, and showed no signs of trouble, Boylan said.

Boylan said he has been in the transportation business for 31 years and has seen only one other bus fire like this one. But because a bus is a mechanical object, it can be prone to fire, just like automobiles, Boylan said.

"You plan for something like this to happen, and you hope it never happens," Boylan said.

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