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Diesel technician concerned with company that makes engine in school bus that caught fire in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Is your child safe on the school bus? One metro diesel technician says maybe not - depending on the make of the engine. The question arises after a school bus with dozens of Pathway Academy students burst into flames on Tuesday on East 55th Street near Swope Parkway.

One local diesel technician says he's concerned the company that makes this type of school bus engine is putting the lives of the children who ride in them at risk.

“I think if you`re a parent, and your kid rides a school bus, and it`s an International, you`re putting your kid`s life at risk,” said the diesel technician.

This man is a master certified diesel technician, who used to work for International Navistar.

“I`ve heard a few stories of school buses catching fire that actually had International engines in them,” he added.

Cellphone video captured flames, and black smoke billowing from the bus Tuesday.

This diesel technician says his 11-years of experience points to a cause for the fire. He believes it's the cheaper model engine in the school bus.

“When I saw the side of the school bus and I saw the CE200 plate, I knew before anything happened, I told my girlfriend, I guarantee that had an International engine in it when it caught fire, and they said from the engine compartment,” he said.

He says he knows because his former employer -- International Navistar — is named in pending lawsuits for problems with emissions and the safety of other engines.

“It`s only a matter of time, what happens if something happens with the school bus and the kids can`t get out, or it causes an accident, and International Navistar isn`t doing anything about it,” the technician said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the bus that burned passed an inspection in the first part of this year.

“They have to be inspected by us, so we inspect them from February up until April 30th, which we just completed,” said Sergeant Bill Lowe, with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

This diesel tech said it's not surprising to him that a basic inspection would show no problems.

“It`s only going to fail DOT, if it`s pouring, visually running oil, running fuel. If it`s a drip, the dealership won`t do anything about it, they`ll pass it,” he explained.

He says he just wants parents to be aware.

“Just faulty engine stuff. It`s all a matter of when it`s going to happen, kind of like sitting on a ticking time bomb,” he said.

FOX 4's Melissa Stern called International Navistar and asked for a manager. Whoever answered the phone told her the company would not comment for our story.

The bus company, First Student, did not return her phone calls asking for a comment.