A potential catastrophe was avoided last Friday afternoon when a Jeff Davis County Schools bus caught on fire with students still on board.
The bus driver, Portia Cappers, got all the children off the bus with the help of volunteers in the area who saw what was happening.
School Superintendent Dr. Chris Roppe said Cappers was running her afternoon route and was on Latimer Street where she was dropping off students and was starting to continue her route out Burkett’s Ferry Road.
Dr. Roppe said Cappers saw smoke coming out of the engine compartment which had become heated so she stopped the bus and ordered all the children to exit the bus through the rear emergency exit. All the children were safely evacuated and there were no injuries reported.
By the time school officials got to the site, there were several parents who lived in the area who were already there to get their children. A backup bus was called and the remaining children were safely transported over the remainder of the route.
After the route was completed, Cappers and Transportation Director Alvin Merritt went back over the route to each child’s home to make sure they had all gotten home safely.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined but Dr. Roppe and Merritt said an investigative team from the Georgia Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance Division would be in Hazlehurst Thursday to conduct an investigation. Additionally, the Hazlehurst Fire Department will conduct its investigation into the fire’s cause.