Fire on school bus carrying three students the latest problem for embattled KC Premier

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It was a frightening ride no doubt for three charter school students in Kansas City.

Investigators say Thursday afternoon a KC Premier Transportation driver was taking the students home when her school bus broke down and flames immediately shot out from the hood.

"Yeah, it's a very scary situation for those kids I'm sure and, you know, the parents involved," said Capt. Jimmy Walker with the Kansas City Fire Department.

Investigators said the fire started in a small electrical box under the dashboard. The fast-moving fire prevented the driver from opening a side door.

"I've never seen the door not open, but it's hard to know exactly what took place," Walker said.

Firefighters praised the bus driver for her actions.

"The bus driver, she acted accordingly. She quickly did the right thing, got the kids off through a back door," Walker told FOX4.

In March, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said nearly half of KC Premier's buses failed state inspections due to safety issues. We're told the company later fixed the problems on its buses taken out of service.

Two weeks ago inspectors took three of the company's 41 buses off the streets.

"It's a very serious situation," Walker said.

"It's just a bad karma just following me, and you are following me. You're bad karma for me," KC Premier Transportation's owner, Ejaz Mahmood, told FOX4's Robert Townsend.

Mahmood said bus No. 64 that caught fire Thursday afternoon was recently inspected.

"The bus had no issues. It just had an electrical fire under the hood. Electrical, mechanical things do happen. I'm not gonna shy away from it. The driver's safe. The kids are safe. That is the most important thing," Mahmood said during a phone interview.

"We're gonna check back through our records and see what we found on that bus," said Corp. Nate Bradley with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Bradley also said eventually he plans to take the state's case against KC Premier Transportation back to Jackson County prosecutors and the Attorney General's Office.

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