A Breeze bus driver for the North County Transit District had her route through Camp Pendleton unexpectedly re-routed on Sept. 30.
Sonya Fisher said she was driving her usual route through the US Marine Corps base when a federal police officer stopped her to help evacuate a nearby school that was in the path of a brush fire.
“No, never. Never happened to me before,” laughed Fisher. “When you see black smoke, it’s like, ‘OK, something’s going on.’”
Fisher said the officer directed her to a day care with roughly 50 preschoolers and their teachers. The black smoke from the fire was billowing behind the school.
Security camera footage from the bus, which is operated by MV Transportation on behalf of the NCTD, showed a line of children and adults fill the bus to capacity.
“They were all coming in the back door. The teachers sat them down and it was just piling up, piling up, and I was like, ‘Okay, here we go!” laughed Fisher. “The minute I started driving the teachers and the kids started singing 'The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round' and tears just started coming out. I just had to take a deep breath.”
Fisher said she thought about her own 2-year-old daughter at home and how worried she would be under the same circumstances.
Fisher said she was directed to drive the children a few miles to a USMC field house where they would be reunited with their parents.
“I felt blessed to be there,” she sighed. “I was happy that I could actually enjoy that experience.”
The North County Transit District board is expected to honor Fisher during an upcoming meeting.
The USMC said the vegetation fire was extinguished later that day.