Nineteen Peaster ISD students were safely evacuated from a bus Thursday morning after the front end of the vehicle caught fire on the way to school, according to authorities.
The bus driver, 61-year-old Billy Dwayne Boggs, of Poolville, was able to get all the children safely off the bus with the help of a passer-by, Texas Highway Patrol Trooper Ricky Hunter said.
The vehicle was southbound on Zion Hill Road around 7:15 a.m. when the driver lost power to the engine and noticed smoke coming from the front end, according to authorities.
He then pulled over at McClendon Road and immediately evacuated the students, ranging from elementary school age to high school age, as the smoke began coming inside the vehicle.
The driver attempted to fight the fire with an extinguisher but was unsuccessful, Hunter said.
Volunteer firefighters from Peaster VFD arrived on scene to find the whole front end on fire, fire chief Leo Scott said. “It was the real McCoy thing.”
“I cannot stress what a perfect job he did,” Scott said, adding that the driver got the vehicle off the main highway and had the kids corralled away from the roadway.
“Everybody got out OK, no bumps or bruises,” Scott said. “I don’t even think they were late for school.”
Despite their efforts, the fire completely destroyed the vehicle.
Scott said he was concerned about a possible grass fire because of the extent of the fire and requested firefighters from Central Community and Springtown, as well, but they were not needed.
“It looks like we had a mechanical or electrical issue,” said Peaster ISD Superintendent Matt Adams, who praised the bus driver’s handling of the situation.
“The driver did a great job making sure the kids were safe and off the bus,” Adams said.
The school practices bus evacuations with students once a year, according to Adams, who said Boggs has been driving for the school district for a couple of years.
“We’re very fortunate that he handled it as well as he’d been trained,” Adams said.