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School bus burns

Caitlin Rickard crickard@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated May 15, 2014 at 11:45 AM

The Watertown fire department helped extinguish a fire Monday after a school bus from White County caught fire with more than 40 students inside.

Volunteer fire Chief John Jewell said the bus was traveling in Watertown on Highway 69 near the neighborhood of Prosperity when it caught fire. 

The call came in around 2:30 p.m., and Jewell said his department sent one engine and five firefighters to the scene. He said units from nearby Auburntown also were called in to help extinguish the flames.

“For the most part, [the bus] was pretty much gone by the time we got there,” Jewell said. “It was very heavily damaged. The fire was still heavily involved when got there, so there wasn’t a great deal we could do but put it out and move it.”

According to Jewell, the bus “burned pretty thoroughly all the way through.” 

“It looks like the initiation was on the front end of the bus,” Jewell said. “The driver indicated that he noticed fire under the engine, in the engine compartment area.”

Jewell said he thought a few different things could have caused the fire.

“It’s hard to know but my guess, with the fire coming from the front end, is that it could have been electrical or a fuel leak,” Jewell said. “I would say it was most likely caused by one of those two things.”

Jewell said thankfully no one was injured and the bus driver, along with 44 students and other adults on board, all made it out safely. 

“The driver was very proactive,” Jewell said.

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