Fayetteville bus that exploded was 8 years old, converted twice, leaders say

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- ABC11 is digging deeper into what might have caused a Fayetteville Area System of Transit bus to catch fire.

The Fayetteville Area System of Transit bus caught fire and exploded Monday morning.

It happened around 10 a.m. at the intersection of Person Street and Old Wilmington Road.

Video: Fayetteville transit bus catches fire, explodes

Witnesses said the driver of the bus smelled smoke prior to seeing flames on the bus. She then evacuated everybody off the bus, preventing any injuries.

"The bus driver did an amazing job," Fayetteville Fire Department Battalion Chief Joseph McLamb said.

McLamb said the bus had a hybrid engine that operate on fuel and propane. It's still unclear what caused the fire.

Eyewitness News sat down with FAST Director Randy Hume who discussed the bus's history.

"It was bought in 2011, so it's eight years old. Normally, that type of bus would operate five or six years. It stayed longer because of our thing of converting it from hybrid to gasoline, so we've kept it a little longer than normal," said Hume.

ABC11 found that the city converted the bus twice. It was first a hybrid, then the converted it to gasoline only. A few years ago it was converted again to a gasoline and propane operated engine.

"With propane primarily to save costs because it's much cheaper. It's also more sustainable and less emissions on it, so we went that way. But in some ways, on some of our buses, it allows our buses to stay out longer on the bus because it used to when it was gasoline only we would have to pull the bus and exchange and now it can run on propane and switch to gasoline," said Hume.

The city's propane vendor is bringing in investigators to help determine the cause. Meanwhile, the city is thankful that there were no casualties, crediting the bus driver's quick thinking and their rigorous training.

City leaders said a $130,000 grant will help phase out the type of bus at the center of the fire.
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