Management & Operations

NTSB determines cause of bus fire

Posted on March 1, 2007

Insufficient lubrication in the right-side tag axle wheel bearing assembly resulting in increased temperatures, subsequent failed wheel bearings, and eventually, the ignition of the tire was the cause for the fatal Texas bus fire that took 23 lives during Hurricane Rita evacuation efforts, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). In its report, the NTSB also determined that the owner of the coach, Global Limo Inc., failed to conduct proper vehicle maintenance, do pre-trip inspections and complete post-trip drive vehicle inspection reports, which contributed to its inability to detect the insufficient wheel bearing lubrication. The NTSB also made several recommendations to Federal legislative bodies, bus associations, the motorcoach industry and first responders that included, revising regulations to prohibit a commercial vehicle from operating with wheel seal or other hub lubrication leaks; developing detection systems to monitor wheel well compartment temperatures; and the further study on the causes of motorcoach and bus fires, as well as the development of new fire prevention and mitigation techniques. A synopsis of the report is available on NTSB’s Website,, under “Board Meetings.”

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