Officials continue to investigate what caused a school bus carrying Southern York County School District elementary students to go up in flames last week.

State police troopers inspected the bus and determined that it was an engine fire, Lt. Fred Hess, supervisor at the Loganville barracks. However, they were unable to determine the specific origin.

The bus company, First Student Inc., is still looking into the fire, said Wayne McCullough, chief financial and operations officer for the district.

"We'll continue to look at the bus and see if we can determine what did occur," Maureen Richmond, a spokeswoman for First Student, said recently.

About 40 students got off the bus safely after a motorist pulled in front of the bus to alert the driver to the smoke coming from the rear of it.

Sixth-grade students Ryan Pugaczewski and Ryan Sell, who sit in the back of the bus, said they yelled to the bus driver about the smoke after Sell saw it.

Pugaczewski said he opened a side door, and both he and Sell assisted other children in getting off the bus.

They also comforted the younger ones as they watched the bus go up in flames.

"We felt better once we knew that we had helped all the little kids off and that they were safe," Sell said.


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Most of the children on the bus live in a residential development in Codorus Township.

Jessica Edwards, a former school bus driver, said she feels blessed that her son, Ryan Sell, and all of the children are safe.

"It could have become quite a tragedy for our whole neighborhood," she said.

Students practice the bus evacuation plan twice a year, McCullough said. Older students do help the younger ones exit safely in an emergency.

"They acted as they were trained, which is outstanding," he said.