Old Ardrey Kell Road is charred after a CMS school bus caught on fire Thursday afternoon.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A school bus caught on fire in the Ballantyne area of south Charlotte Thursday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reported.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., Bus 32 was traveling from Charles Parker Academic Center when it experienced a fire at the corner of Old Ardrey Kell Road and Providence Road West, the Charlotte Fire Department confirmed.

CMS said the bus driver was very proactive when he noticed smoke on the bus and proceeded to pull over and safely evacuate all the students from the vehicle.

“When I saw the video and the flames going up, that had to have been frightening,” said neighbor Laurie Ackerman.

The flames were close to her house and all of her neighbors’ houses in the Ardrey North neighborhood. Black smoke began pouring out of the school bus and within minutes, the whole front end became a raging fire.

“The fact that I didn’t hear any sirens, I don’t know how that happened,” said Ackerman.

When Charlotte firefighters arrived on the scene, Carolina Volunteer Fire Department had arrived, and both agencies jointly extinguished the fire, CFD said. The students and bus driver had already safely exited the bus, and CMS said students were picked up by parents and taken home.

CFD reported fire damage to the engine compartment, driver’s seat, and first row of seats. 

Queen City News obtained the report for the last time the bus was inspected in April. In the fall of last year there was an exhaust leak with the engine. 

CMS said its bus drivers are given yearly safety training to manage various situations, including emergency evacuations. The district said the the cause of the fire is under investigation.