VIDEO: Students escape bus fire in Ringgold
CATOOSA COUNTY, GA. (WRCB)- There were some scary moments Friday evening for some Catoosa County elementary school students, when the bus they were riding in caught fire.
It happened just after 3 o'clock Friday afternoon in Ringgold.
As soon as 11-year-old Garrett Dunn stepped off his school bus Friday afternoon, he knew something was not right, when he saw smoke coming from the front of the bus.
"He pulled over on the side of the road and stopped, and I heard some people, some of the little pre-kers scream from the front," says Garrett.
He says it was only a matter of seconds from the time he stepped off the bus, turned around, and saw all of the smoke rising up in to the air. He immediately ran up the driveway to get his dad.
"He hollers out, 'the bus is on fire!' And we come running down and the bus is on fire," says Garrett's dad, Johnny.
Johnny says the bus cabin was filled with smoke. He shot cell phone video, just as firefighters put out the flames.
"It seemed like there were probably at least three fire trucks and then I saw one ambulance and two or three sheriff's cars. Quite a crowd," says Johnny.
Charred bus parts still sit in the road.
"I was little bit scared for all the kids, because I didn't know if they got off the bus in time or not," says Garrett.
It turns out they did.
Garrett's quick-thinking bus driver, Mr. Terry, was able to get the 20-or-so kids off the bus safely and another bus picked them up.
"They evacuated and got the kids out of here before we even got down to the end of the driveway," says Johnny.
He says the outcome could not be any better.
"I commend him, because he evidently was really quick and I think he's just been on the job about three weeks," says Johnny.
"I'd tell him thank you for like saving all the kids and getting them off in time," says Garrett.
"Glad he got off and I'm glad everybody's safe," says Johnny.
A spokesperson with Catoosa County Schools says the bus driver followed procedure to the letter by evacuating the bus and notifying the bus transportation dispatch.
She says within the last 30 days, the entire Catoosa bus fleet was inspected by the state and all buses passed.
Officials believe the fire may have started with the alternator.