SDSA students evacuated safely before bus bursts into flames

Millville Volunteer Fire Company firefighters extinguish a fire after a school bus burst into flames in the Giant Food Store parking lot in Millville Tuesday, April 17. (Photo: Jeff Kessel, Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department).

MILLVILLE – All students were evacuated safely Tuesday afternoon before an Indian River School District bus burst into flames in the Giant Food Store parking lot in Millville.

Bus driver David St. John was dropping off students from IRSD’s Southern Delaware School of the Arts in the Giant parking lot on Town Center Drive off Atlantic Avenue when he detected smoke coming from the engine compartment.

He immediately had students evacuate in a safe and orderly fashion.

“There were no injuries and all students had exited the bus by the time the fire started,” said IRSD spokesman David Maull.

The engine compartment subsequently erupted in flames.

Personnel from the Millville Volunteer Fire Company extinguished the fire. The fire company was alerted by Sussex County Emergency Operations Center just before 3 p.m., April 17.

Lisa Bird, whose family resides in Millville, was waiting in the parking lot for the SDSA shuttlebus to pick up her three children – a kindergartner, seventh grade and eighth grader – who attend IRSD’s magnet school in Selbyville

“My kids told me they started to smell the smoke right as they were about to park the bus. It wasn’t like they were driving down the road,” said Ms. Bird. “I will say I thought the bus driver did a great job. The kids were not panicked. There was nobody screaming. They weren’t running. He did a really good job keeping things calm.”

“It was quite a spectacle here in Millville,” Ms. Bird said.

In addition to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, Sussex County Paramedic Unit 105 also responded to the scene; there were no reported injuries.

All parents were notified and picked up their children at the location, Mr. Maull said.

Extent of damage to the bus was not immediately known.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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