LaBrae school bus burns

LEAVITTSBURG — A LaBrae school bus caught fire Monday morning in the parking lot of the bus garage on West Market.

A mechanic who was servicing the bus started it and walked into the nearby garage, according to LaBrae transportation, building and grounds, and custodial supervisor Lou Cimmento. When the mechanic returned four or five minutes later, the bus was on fire, he said.

In a matter of minutes, the bus went from smoking to fully engulfed in flames, said Warren Township fire Chief Randy Daniels, who was quickly on the scene. He said the fire began in the engine block, and an investigation will take place to determine the cause.

It took Warren Township and Champion firefighters about an hour and 1,000 gallons of water to put out the blaze. Cimmento said the bus was a complete loss. One other bus sustained minor paint bubbling from heat.

Trumbull County HazMat was called to the scene to control about 30 gallons of diesel fuel that leaked across the parking lot and into a nearby patch of woods.

“When the front wheels melted away, the fuel line under the truck also melted,” Daniels said.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was advised of the spill, and cleanup company Enviroserve came to manage contaminants.

The bus, which was about a decade old, was a spare, Cimmento said. It was last inspected in May.

Cimmento said the Ohio State Highway Patrol will inspect the bus that sustained heat damage, as well as other buses in the fleet within a five-year range of the one that caught fire.

“Maintenance at this facility is great, this is just something that happened with this bus,” Daniels said. “They’re fortunate it happened in the parking lot, and not on the road or in the garage.”

Cimmento said he has not spoken to the school district about replacing the bus, but a new one would cost approximately $90,000.

LaBrae has 10 regular bus routes and usually has five spare buses. Cimmento said routes will not be affected by the fire.

Security footage that captured the fire will be used for training purposes both for mechanics at the garage and for the Warren Township fire department, Daniels said.