The investigation into the cause of a devastasting hydrogen bus fire in Bakersfield, California, earlier this month will be “coordinated” by the bus operator’s lawyers, Hydrogen Insight has learned.
Hours after the fuel-cell bus caught fire on 18 July, Golden Empire Transit (GET) announced that the Bakersfield Fire Department (BFD) would investigate the fire, which reduced the vehicle to a charred carcass. But BFD later said that it would not conduct an investigation as it believed that there had not been any malicious intent.
GET then told local newspaper The Bakersfield Californian that “multiple agencies” were involved in an investigation, but declined to identify any of them.
So Hydrogen Insight asked for clarification as to who was conducting the investigation.
A spokeswoman for GET replied: “Golden Empire Transit has retained legal counsel that will coordinate the investigation. I do not have any further information at this time.”
Despite not conducting an investigation into the fire, the BFD asked GET for a copy of their video of the fire to help with training purposes, but the bus operator declined.
The GET spokeswoman explained to Hydrogen Insight: “We explained we could not release until the investigation is complete and since Bakersfield Fire was not conducting an investigation there was no need to turn it over.”
Separately, a spokeswoman for New Flyer, the Canadian company that manufactured the fuel-cell bus, told Hydrogen Insight that: “It will likely be months until investigations are complete, and we cannot speculate on the cause of the incident while the investigation is underway.”
And when asked if New Flyer would take any extra precautions with the 135 of its fuel-cell buses already on the road, the spokeswoman replied: “Thus far, New Flyer has not heard or found any information that causes us to believe that other fuel cell-electric vehicles manufactured by the company pose a safety risk.
“This is the first event of this kind on a New Flyer hydrogen fuel cell-electric vehicle, which has not had any recalls and has a different battery compartment and configuration than our battery-electric vehicles.