HOLLYWOOD—On the morning of Wednesday, May 19, a southbound school bus on the 101 Freeway caught on fire. No other vehicles were involved, but it did cause the closing of the Cahuenga Pass for at least an hour. The bus reportedly broke down in the middle of the freeway and then immediately burst into flames. No one was hurt, but the students on the bus were frightened. Two children were treated on the scene and then released to their chaperones after suffering minor smoke inhalation.
Authorities responded to the school bus fire on the 101 South at Universal Center Drive just after 9 a.m. during the busy morning commute. The students were members of the Flory Academy in Moorpark. At least one teacher, Cathy Peters, was on board and assisted in evacuating the children from the bus. Initially Peters feared having the kids get off the bus due to the traffic on the 101, but as the smoke began to fill the bus, her quick action possibly saved the lives of the passengers. Witnesses report that within four or five minutes the bus was fully engulfed in flames. By the time firefighters arrived the bus was gutted by the fire. Two children complained of smoke inhalation, but paramedics on the scene examined them and gave them oxygen.
Several passengers driving by pulled over in order to assist Peters and the other adults unload the children onto the freeway from the blazing bus. The students were 8 and 9 year olds, who were on a field trip headed for the California Science Center. Another bus arrived a short time later to pick them up, and firefighters let children play with the hoses as they waited. The California Highway Patrol is investigating the cause of the fire, which caused southbound freeway lanes to close for more than an hour.
Flory Academy school officials gave a statement in part. “At approximately 9 a.m. smoke was detected and the driver pulled to the side of the road. Teacher Cathy Peters, parent volunteers, including a principal from a neighboring district, and the bus driver followed emergency procedures and immediately evacuated the bus, which caught on fire shortly thereafter,” said Principal Mike Winters. “I am happy to report that due to Mrs. Peters’s calm and immediate actions, all students are safe and continuing on their trip.”
On Thursday morning Canyon News contacted the Flory Academy. A representative from the school who said only that her name was Ann stated, “Everyone is fine. It was handled professionally by our teacher (Cathy Peters) along with the other adults, and all of the kids are in school today.”