Exposed wiring tied to CMS bus fires, inspection shows

Exposed wiring tied to CMS bus fires, inspection shows

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Exposed wiring is related to the cause of two recent Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bus fires, CMS officials say, although an exact cause could not be determined.

A CMS bus caught fire near Nations Ford Road and Downs Road in southwest Charlotte on Nov. 14, less than a month after a bus became engulfed in flames along Dunlavin Way in east Charlotte.

According to CMS, there were not any students on board the bus in southwest Charlotte at the time.

RELATED: School bus catches fire in southwest Charlotte

Students were on board at the time of the east Charlotte bus fire. Medic said one person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously injured.

"The district has concluded that the investigation into the causes of two fires on board CMS school buses is related to the wiring components in the engine compartment," CMS said. "CMS and DPI inspectors were unable to positively identify a specific cause but did feel that the area around the starter could be an area of concern."

Soon after the second fire happened, an employee of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reached out to WBTV regarding the incident, speaking under anonymity out of fear of retaliation from the district.

The employee works in the CMS transportation department and has driven buses for the district in past years. The employee said he was concerned about the safety of the school buses.

CMS says transportation staff looked for missing frame insulators and observed the condition of the wiring. "Transportation teams have taken the proactive step of installing this protective sleeve on any bus identified as a concern," CMS says.

WBTV has done investigations about CMS buses in years past.

One investigation uncovered records showing a 12-year-old bus had a history of coolant leaks that caused its engine to start smoking just two weeks before it caught fire.

In 2016 WBTV obtained a copy of a safety audit revealing that state inspectors found dangerous defects in some CMS buses.

Here are part one and part two of the inspection reports.

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