A school bus owned by an Ark City church sustained heavy damage Wednesday night when a fire broke out in and around the engine compartment of the vehicle.
Around 8:45 p.m., fire crews were called to Hillcrest Bible Baptist Church, 2440 N. Summit, for the report of a bus fire. Firefighters arrived on scene to find the front portion of the vehicle engulfed in flames.
The driver and passengers were out of the full-size bus and safe by the time crews arrived. No injuries were reported.
Those at the scene told investigators the bus had only been running a few minutes. It was about to depart from the church when those aboard it heard a loud bang that sounded like a backfire.
Youth pastor Brent Saxton told NewsCow the bus was being used to take about 40 young people home following church activities.
We were getting reading to leave and I stepped off the bus to make sure a church door was locked, he said. I heard a pop and looked and the bus was starting to catch fire. We got everyone off the bus as quickly as possible. As the soon as the driver stepped off, the bus went into flames.
Flames were seen coming from the floor around the gear shifter, according to a written report of the incident.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze shortly after arriving.