VICTORIA — Students and crew aboard a marine school bus were safely rescued Thursday morning after an engine fire on the vessel used to ferry children to schools on British Columbia's southern Gulf Islands.
A spokesman with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said crew members on board the vessel were able to put out the engine room fire.
There were 33 people on board and all, except one crew member, were transferred to another vessel, the spokesman said. The crew member remained on board to help tow the vessel to nearby Sidney for repairs.
Jesse Guy, the secretary-treasurer of School District 64, said the students were in Grades 6 to 12 and were being transported to elementary, middle and high schools on Salt Spring and Pender islands when the fire occurred.
School staff met the students as they arrived for school on another vessel and counsellors were available to anybody who needed assistance, she said in an interview.
Guy said the company had a backup vessel ready to transport the students back to their communities at the end of the school day.
"All students and boat crew are safe," Guy said. "We share the concerns of family and community."
She said the contract holder for the water taxi service assured the district that all safety procedures were followed.
Several vessels in the area immediately responded to the incident, including a fast-response rescue boat launched by BC Ferries' Coastal Renaissance, but that was called off before it reached the scene, the rescue centre spokesman said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press