Video: Firefighters battle CT school bus fires
BETHEL — Police and the fire marshal continued Monday to investigate the cause of the early Sunday morning fire that destroyed three school buses.
The damaged buses were largely hidden Monday morning amongst the row of well over a dozen vehicles at First Student bus company’s depot on Henry Street. Windows were smashed on one of the buses, which was heavily charred inside.
A small group of people, some in yellow vests, stood by that bus mid-morning Monday. At one point, two people knelt down and opened a latch on the side of the vehicle to examine the inside.
All three buses were “damaged beyond repair,” according to an email Superintendent Christine Carver sent to school parents, guardians and staff on Sunday.
“It appears the fire originated with a small van, and because of the high winds, the fire spread to two full-size buses,” Carver wrote.
Volunteer firefighters responded to the fire around 2:20 a.m. — around the same time residents on Facebook reported hearing a “loud bang.”
One of the first firefighters on scene reported a full-size bus and a mini bus were “fully involved,” and that another full-size bus was also catching fire.
The firefighter also told dispatch the burning vehicles were about 15 to 20 feet from a fuel source, and he requested a tanker.
With the help of the West Redding Volunteer Fire Department — which sent an engine and a tanker to the scene — Bethel’s Engine 6 extinguished the flames before they could spread to other buses or buildings nearby.
While the Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal office investigate the cause of the fire, Carver said the bus company will be “checking the other buses to ensure there was no impact to the rest of the fleet.”
“Luckily, the affected full-size buses were ‘spares’ and will not affect our bus runs (on Monday). First Student also provided a replacement van,” according to Carver.
The fire was discovered by a Bethel police officer who smelled smoke in the Greenwood Avenue area, according to a post on the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company’s Facebook page.
“Recognizing that the odor wasn’t just chimney smoke, the officer began to search the downtown area, quickly finding the source on Henry Street,” the Facebook post states.