PORTLAND – The bus carrying a Central Catholic football team that caught on fire on Highway 26 Thursday is the same year, make and model that was recalled for a battery problem, which can possibly result in a fire.
According to the Auto Recalls for Consumers website, the 1999 Prevost H3-45 bus was recalled for its battery electrical system, along with 6 other equipment recalls. The transit buses were equipped with Vanner 60 series battery equalizers that could fail and cause a malfunction of the battery charging system.
The recall reads in part: “Without fusing, the equalizer may melt, burn, or smoke, possibly resulting in a fire or a smoke filled bus.”
An initial on-scene investigation by Portland Fire & Rescue on Friday concluded the fire started in the engine compartment due to a battery malfunction, said spokesman Tommy Schroeder. Firefighters could not specify if the fire was a result of the battery equalizers.
A more in-depth investigation will be carried out by insurers for the bus company, Blue Star International, to determine a more specific cause of the fire.
Blue Star did not get back to KGW to answer whether the bus had been updated with new battery equalizers in response to the recall notice.
In an earlier interview with KGW, the owner of the Blue Star Transportation Group said his mechanics believe the fire was caused by a malfunction in the turbo system of the bus.
Prevost reportedly began notifying owners to inspect their buses in November of 2000.
On Thursday Aug. 29, 2013, the Oregon Department of Transportation inspected the bus and discovered no violations. Vehicle examinations, however, do not include checking for recalls, ODOT confirmed to KGW.