Driver gets kids off Nebraska school bus minutes before fire consumes vehicle

Driver gets kids off Nebraska school bus minutes before fire consumes vehicle
Courtesy Photo

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — A school bus driver in Hayes Center, Nebraska, thought he smelled burning wires while out on his route.

Within minutes after he and seven students hustled off the bus Monday afternoon, flames broke out and consumed the vehicle.

The driver’s quick actions prevented what could have been a disastrous situation, Superintendent Tony Primavera said.

Primavera said he was in a meeting with the Hayes Center school principal, Megan Soundy, around 4 p.m. when the 911 call came through.

“She’s an EMT, and we’re sitting in this meeting and she goes, ‘One of our buses is on fire,’ ” Primavera said.

He asked her if an ambulance had been called.

“She said, ‘It’s just the fire department,’ ” Primavera said. “Thank God, no ambulance was called.

“We didn’t know it at the time. The kids had already been off the bus for several minutes.”

Smoke started to come out of the vehicle’s electrical panel after all the students were off the bus, Primavera said. The driver grabbed the fire extinguisher, but the smoke got too thick and he got out.

The driver then spotted flames and called for help.

No one panicked, Primavera said. After Primavera found out that all the students were safe, he drove to the scene of the fire.

“We get out there and there’s flames coming out (of the bus),” Primavera said. “My bus is gone. It probably burned for a half hour, 45 minutes.”

“We’re very fortunate, and I’m pleased as punch my bus driver did a great job,” Primavera said. “He was able to get the kids off and they were never in any real danger due to his quick action.”

Hayes Center is a community of about 200 people approximately 70 miles southwest of North Platte.