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Bus carrying West Van elementary students catches fire in Chilliwack

Westcot students all got off the charter bus safely before it burst into flames on Vedder Mountain Road.

A charter bus carrying a load of elementary school students from West Vancouver’s Westcot Elementary caught fire Thursday morning on the way to Cultus Lake.

Photos from the scene showed flames shooting from the back window of the coach-style bus and thick smoke pouring from the area as the fire spread to a nearby property.

Fortunately all the students, staff and supervisors were able to get off the bus safely before the fire took hold.

According to information from the West Vancouver School District, the bus, which was carrying the students on the field trip to the Cultus Lake Adventure Park, blew a tire while travelling on Vedder Mountain Road in Chilliwack.

The driver was able to safely pull over and everyone got off the bus.

It was then that smoke began to pour from the back of the bus.

Chris Wilson, assistant fire chief with the Chilliwack Fire Department, said crews were called out to the 44,400 block of Vedder Mountain Road at around 9:20 a.m. When crews arrived, they found the large tour bus “heavily involved in flames,” said Wilson. The fire spread quickly to a nearby hedge and a workshop on private property, said Wilson.

Several tanker trucks were called out as the fire was near a heavily forested area of Vedder Mountain.

Fortunately crews were able to get the blaze under control. They were still mopping up on Thursday afternoon.

Chilliwack RCMP arranged with the Chilliwack School District for an alternate bus to take the students the rest of the way to Cultus Lake, where they continued with their field trip after parents were informed of the bus fire.

According to the school district, ambulance crews did check in with the group to be sure all the Westcot staff and students were well.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the Chilliwack Fire Department and RCMP.

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