A Mobile County Public School System caught fire Monday afternoon in Grand Bay.
It happened around 3 p.m. on Lakeland Drive at Highway 188. According to Grand Bay Fire, all students were safely evacuated from the bus.
The bus driver had just dropped off two students when she noticed smoke coming from underneath the bus and immediately evacuated the more than 20 students from Alma Bryant High School and Grand Bay Middle School. A spokesperson for the Mobile County Public School System praised the bus driver, saying she followed proper procedure to make sure the students were unharmed.
Jordan Bowman was one of the students on the bus and recalls how it all unfolded.
"I was just sitting there, then some girl said there was a lot of smoke coming from upfront. Then I got up, she said there's a fire under it... I tried to go out the front, but then some kid pushed me and I went out through the back door and opened it. Then when we got out here... It started getting bigger and bigger," said Bowman, Alma Bryant student on bus.
Joshua Hicks was driving on Highway 188 and says he saw the smoke and was surprised when he rolled up on the fully involved bus.
""It looked like it was a small fire... Like straw burning from down the road, then pulling up on it I was like man the bus is on fire. So I pulled over, watched it and made sure everyone got off quickly and safely," said Hicks, witnessed fire.
The Grand Bay Fire Department got the call around 3 p.m. and were on scene within minutes to extinguish the blaze. Two of the front tires on the bus exploded during the blaze.
"These fires don't happen. I've only responded to two in my career. But the biggest challenge is the tires. You have to watch them. We had two explode today on the front side. You have to be careful around them, plus you have all of the hazardous smoke coming out of the exterior," said Chief Grayling Christian, Grand Bay Fire Department.
The bus was towed away and will be inspected by the State Fire Marshals Office. According to Mobile County Schools Transportation Coordinator Pat Mitchell -- depending on the findings -they'll make changes to other buses if needed. Mitchell says the bus is only five years old.
This is not the first Mobile County school bus to catch fire. Another one happened in February 2016. All 15 students on the bus made it out safely. However, the cause of the fire was undetermined.
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