A Greenwood dance team got only 10 miles down the road Friday before its trip to Houston, Texas, was cut short when the small bus in which it was riding caught fire.
None of the 10 young members of the Pretty Pink Panther Dance Team or the five adults traveling with them was seriously injured, although all of the team’s uniforms, props and other belongings, including money that had been raised for the trip, were consumed in the fire.
Kaylah Brown, director of the dance team and the driver of the 15-passenger bus, said the group was headed for a dance competition when shortly before noon Friday the vehicle began to lose speed and a warning light flashed on the dashboard saying the transmission needed servicing.
Soon afterward, the engine started smoking, Brown said, and she pulled onto the southbound shoulder of U.S. 49 to evacuate the bus. “After we got the kids off the van, the van started sparking and eventually blew up. It blew up, and the whole van caught on fire,” she said.
Afterward, Brown said, all the travelers went to Greenwood Leflore Hospital to be checked out.
She said about 10 in the group suffered an assortment of minor injuries — bruises, scratches and sprained ankles. They were treated and released.
“All the girls were shook up, all the girls were scared, but we calmed them down,” Brown said.
She said the vehicle had been rented from her sister.
By the time the blaze was extinguished by the Sidon Fire Department, all that remained of the bus was a burned-out shell.
Brown said the firefighters speculated that a short in the transmission’s wiring might have caused the fire.
Only a few pieces of luggage were able to be saved, according to Brown. She estimated the loss, not counting the vehicle, could run as much as $20,000 to $25,000. Although the vehicle was insured, it was not immediately clear whether the insurance would cover the loss of the belongings, she said.
Brown hopes that the Pretty Pink Panthers won’t be sidelined and their travel schedule scrapped for too long.
“Hopefully, the community will help out. We’re just going to postpone competitions until we can regain everything,” she said.
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.