Federal investigators looking into a school bus fire that left an elderly man and a teenager dead in Iowa last week noted that the bus model involved was previously the subject of a major recall. The investigators are now trying to determine if the bus should have undergone repairs as part of that recall.
According the Des Moines Register, the incident occurred around 7 am Tuesday in rural Pottawattamie County. As the bus was backing out of a student’s driveway, the bus somehow ended up in a ditch and caught fire.
Emergency responders arrived roughly 15 minutes later, but were unable to get inside the bus. By the time the fire was extinguished, 16-year-old Megan Klindt and 74-year-old Donald Hendricks were dead. There were no other occupants aboard the bus when the fire occurred.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as part of their investigation, will analyze possible causes of the fire as well as examine maintenance records of the bus, medical records of the driver, and flammability of the bus.
The NTSB will also check if the bus should have undergone electrical system repairs as part of a recall of certain 2005 models of International brand school buses.
Overall, school bus fires are very rare.
From 2004 through 2013, fewer than two people died per year as a result of a school bus catching fire, with only 12 deaths reported over the 10-year-period.
A study by the National Fire Protection Association determined that bus and school bus fires killed an average of three people per year from 1999 to 2003, accounting for just 1 percent of vehicle fire deaths.
About 160 people were injured in school bus fires from 2004 through 2013.