Robert Hulse/Facebook photo, above.
LONG SAULT — Images of the bus engulfed in flame and burned out appeared on Facebook, Monday afternoon, Jan. 20.
Commenter Robert Hulse said that children were safely evacuated from the bus — marked as a Roxborough Bus Lines vehicle — in Long Sault.
Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario General Manager/CAO Janet Murray confirmed in a Jan. 21 email that, “Most importantly, we understand that everyone got out safely.”
STEO is the single entity that contracts school bus service on behalf of the region’s school boards.
“As we understand from an initial update from the bus company, the bus was in the service of one of the French boards at the time of the incident,” Murray wrote, adding she had no further information to provide.
Seven student passengers on the daily trip home from École Rose Des Vents in Cornwall were aboard the vehicle when the female driver noticed a burning odour and light smoke around 4:10 p.m., Roxborough Bus Lines General Manager Nick McRae told NVN the day after the fire.
“In all honesty it couldn’t have gone better,” said McRae. “The driver followed all the procedures, called dispatch and told us her location,” said McRae, adding she evacuated the children to the side of the road without injury.
The bus soon went up in flames, with police and firefighters quickly arriving on scene.
McRae said an investigation into the fire is ongoing. And while the cause remains unknown, he speculated it could have been wiring. “It’s going to be a little tough to get a definite answer of where it started, just with the extent of damage. We’re still looking things over.”
The Avonmore-based company has reached out to the bus manufacturer for help with the investigation.
In a press release, the firm commends the “reaction and quick thinking of our driver in ensuring the safety of the students as well as that of emergency services.”
This article was updated to reflect comments from the STEO CAO, and again to reflect the comments from the bus company and its general manager.