TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Two previous inspections found nothing wrong with a Tucson Unified School District bus that caught fire Friday, Jan. 22 outside Whitmore Elementary School.
Paul Larson, director of transportation for TUSD, said Monday that records show no sign of problems with the bus when it passed a state-mandated inspection or a routine inspection after an oil change.
Friday's fire came as a complete surprise, he said.
"I'm really proud of the way the team reacted," Larson said. "You count on your people to make good decisions in a very short time frame, in an emergency, and they did great."
Faith Glenn, a 5th grade student at Whitmore, said she watched the bus go up on flames from the nearby school playground.
"It was kind of scary because I never thought anything like that would happen," she said.
Glenn's parents said they worry about safety sometimes, but they consider Friday's bus fire to be too extraordinary to be a major concern.
Jason Jackson, who picks up his son every day from Whitmore, said he wouldn't worry about bus fires if his child rode a school bus.
However, Jackson said he would make every effort to find an option other than a bus if he couldn't pick up his son himself.
"The bus catching on fire, that's more of a freak thing. There are a lot more bigger problems for trying to not ride the bus," he said. "They just don't strike me as the safest option."
Larson said TUSD has an outstanding safety record that he would compare to any other district.
He said Friday's fire and a second incident in February 2015 are separate, isolated incidents. Larson also said there are no plans to make any changes to the maintenance schedule or any other aspect of the bus system.
"These events can be random, you know, unexpected, unanticipated," he said. "So we don't have a direction right now other than to go and inspect what we can see, make sure we don't have anything obvious and wait for the inspection and go from there."
The bus from Friday is currently being quarantined until it can be inspected by insurance agents.