School bus catches fire on first day

EASLEY — The first day of school was not without incident for a small group of students in Pickens County.
At approximately 7 a.m. on Tuesday, a Pickens County school bus caught on fire while traveling near Saluda Dam road.

School bus driver Pam Pierce said she heard a popping noise as she made the turn from Sonora Drive onto Saluda Dam Road. Following the noise, Pierce noticed smoke coming from the engine area of the bus.

Pierce immediately stopped the vehicle and was able to safely and efficiently evacuate all 18 students on board the school bus. Another SDPC bus was sent to pick up the students and take them to their respective schools. The students on Pierce’s bus were headed to Crosswell Elementary, Gettys Middle School and Easley High School.

Officials with the School District of Pickens County said they were thankful for the job Pierce did in safely evacuating the children from the bus. As a result of her quick action, no children were injured.

“I’m very proud of our Easley driver, Pam Pierce,” SDPC transportation coordinator Aaron Boyles said. “She very calmly evacuated the bus and moved the students out of harm’s way. We think she’s a hero. Thanks to Pam’s quick thinking we are so grateful that no one was injured.”

Although it has yet to be confirmed, it appears that a mechanical problem with the school bus is responsible for the fire, officials said.

The bus is owned and maintained by the South Carolina State Department of Education. It has been taken to their maintenance shop in Pickens County so professionals can determine the cause of the problem and resultant fire.