Charter bus fire update: company says fire happened on another company’s bus

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The charter bus company, accused of operating a bus that caught fire on a field trip, is speaking out.

Jewel McIntyre with Prime Time Tours admitted his company had the contract for last week's Sherwood eighth grade trip to Magic Springs.

Still, he said the bus that caught on fire was not his.

McIntyre said the contract stated the field trip was for Saturday.

When he contacted the trip's organizer about a pick-up time, McIntyre said the person told him the trip was for Friday.

McIntyre only had one bus available for Friday, so he said he needed to find another company to run a second bus on the trip.

McIntyre said he chose C&L Bus Repair Service, because it had a good safety rating and was on SCS' approved vendors list.

He said he told the person in charge of the trip, and the they were okay with it.

"Prime Time's name was on the contract, so that is where they [SCS] assumed that it was Prime Time's bus that was on fire, which is was not," McIntyre said.

Like Prime Time, C&L has a "Satisfactory" rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

WREG learned Monday, that as of 2012, regulations mandated charter buses undergo a compliance safety review every three years.

Of SCS' 18 charter bus vendors, WREG found five have not had that check in the past three years.

FMCSA spokesperson Kurt Larson explained that does not necessarily mean the buses that have not had that check in the past couple years are a safety concern.

He said the regulation was fairly new, and the FMCSA was working on it.

"We would prioritize who gets the compliance reviews and conduct a compliance review based on that," Larson explained.

Both Prime Time and C & L had that check last year.

Larson added that this was just one type of inspection.

SCS told WREG the district mandated that bus vendors who needed to contract out their work may only select vendors from the approved list.

They must also seek permission from the district.

"Prime Time Tours and C&L Bus have both been suspended from the approved vendors list pending the results of an investigation," SCS said in a statement.

The person who answered the phone at C&L Monday told WREG it is "correct" that it was a C&L bus that caught fire.

No one from the company returned WREG's request for a comment Monday afternoon.

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