No, London bus seen in viral clip did not catch fire because it was electric

By: Ankita Kulkarni
May 16 2024

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No, London bus seen in viral clip did not catch fire because it was electric

Screenshot of a viral post claiming that the video shows an electric bus on fire in Brixton Hill, London. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

Local officials confirmed that the clip shows a diesel-electric hybrid bus. An issue with the diesel engine's cooling fan resulted in the fire.

Claim ID 5176d42b

What is the claim?

A video of a bus engulfed in flames with thick dark smoke emanating from it in the middle of a road is circulating on social media platforms. Several posts claim that the video depicts an electric vehicle (EV) and insinuate that it caught fire because it was electric. Sharing the video, a post on Facebook (archived here) captioned the clip, "A 'green' fire: An electric bus spontaneously combusts in London, England."

Other users on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) shared the video with similar claims. Archived versions of such posts can be viewed here, here, and here.

Screenshots of viral posts circulating on social media. (Source: X/Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, Logically Facts found that the incident captured in the viral video shows a diesel-electric hybrid vehicle that caught fire due to issues with the engine's cooling fan. The video is from 2022. 

What did we find?

A reverse-image search of a screenshot from the viral clip led us to a report published by The Sun on June 17, 2022. It stated that a double-decker erupted into flames in Brixton Hill, South London, and was extinguished by the London Fire Brigade. No injuries were reported during the incident. The Sun's report also included the video of the incident, and the front view of the bus visible at 0:06 seconds can be matched with the visuals captured in the viral clip. This suggests that the viral clip could have been captured at Brixton Hill. 

Comparison between the viral clip and the video included in the The Sun report.
(Source: X/The Sun/Screenshot)

Logically Facts contacted Transport of London, a local government body responsible for the transport network in London. Matt Winfield, the Head of the Press Desk, confirmed that the viral clip is indeed from the fire that broke out in Brixton Hill on June 17, 2022. He added, "It was a hybrid bus. The fire was due to an issue with the diesel engine's cooling fan."

The Independent and The Guardian had also reported on the incident on June 17, 2022. 

A Bloomberg journalist had also shared visuals of the bus on fire on X (archived here) on the same date. This video was caught from a different angle and showed the surroundings in detail, too.  Observing the image carefully, we found the vehicle's registration number was "LJ09KOH." We then checked this number on the U.K. government website and found that the vehicle name is "WRIGHTBUS GEMINI," and the fuel type is "Diesel."

According to the official website of the Mayor of London, over 2,600 diesel-electric hybrid buses operate in the capital. The website added that these buses are more fuel-efficient and cleaner than standard diesel buses and reduce emissions by 30-40 percent. However, the bus in the viral video was not fully electric.

The verdict

The viral video captures an accident in June 2022 in Brixton Hill, London. A hybrid diesel-electric bus caught fire due to problems with the diesel engine's cooling fan. The Transport of London clarified that the bus was not completely electric. Therefore, we have marked the claim as misleading.

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