Driver talks about battling school bus fire in DC

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Bus driver Donzell High had only been on this route for about a month when Friday at about 7:30 a.m. something went wrong.

"We were coming up the hill and I knew the transmission was slipping a little bit and I could smell a little bit of smoke," says High.

Neighbor Karen Kelliager saw it all happen. "There was a little shuttle bus that had white smoke billowing coming out of," she says. It didn't take long for the smoke to turn dangerous. "I looked out and it was really like Hollywood. It was flames and it just kept growing and growing."

The bus is owned by a private company called Capitol Entertainment Services. It takes kids to school in Northwest every day, mainly to Horace Mann School and Francis Scott Key School.

Donzell High says he had about five kids on the bus, and his first priority was to make sure the kids were safe. Once he smelled smoke, High says he pulled over and helped the kids get off the bus. They then walked the rest of the way to school with a monitor, while he tried to put out the fire.

"A Secret Service man pulled up, his name was Hutchison, he used his (fire extinguisher) but it was no good and he said, 'we are going to have to get away from it because it's going to blow,'" remembers High.

It's a good thing they did. In a matter of minutes the entire bus was engulfed in flames.

"We heard noise, things were flying off of it," remembers Kelliager.

Firefighters arrived in minutes and the flames were quickly put out. Foxhall between Cathedral and Nebraska was closed for several hours.


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