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TUSD checking fleet after bus catches fire

Published: Feb. 11, 2015 at 11:05 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson Unified School District is checking their bus fleet Wednesday after one of their buses caught fire in midtown. The fire was caught on video.

TUSD spokesperson, Stefanie Boe, says the bus was heading out to pick up students wrapping up after-school activities. According to the TUSD website, the school bus fleet serves more than 20,000 students.

No students were on the bus when it caught fire. Fire investigators say the cause was an electrical malfunction with the air conditioning switch.

Superintendent H.T. Sanchez describes the incident as an anomaly and says there are no plans to put similar buses out of service, at least not for now.

"It's not like you see in Hollywood where the whole thing just catches ablaze. It was more of a gradual fire that spread throughout the bus. And so kids are safe," says Sanchez.

All school buses in Arizona go through two levels of inspection. The Department of Public Safety Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau checks buses once a year. Inspecting officers look for problems with the vehicle frame, brakes, and steering, among other issues.

"To ensure that the districts are maintaining their buses," says Capt. Brian Preston. "The annual audit is intended to spot check the bus."

In addition to the DPS inspection, each district has its own process for maintaining their school buses. Boe says TUSD inspects its buses every 8,000 miles.

Tucson News Now checked with other school districts in Southern Arizona. The spokesperson for Vail School District says, like TUSD, their buses are inspected every 8,000 miles. A spokesperson for Sunnyside Unified School District says their inspections happen on rotation, so five to ten inspections are performed by mechanics every week. They have just under 100 fleet buses in that rotation.

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