A video showing a bus on fire in Perugia, Italy has drawn attention online. Some social media users have inaccurately claimed it depicts a battery-electric vehicle.
“What happens if an electric bus catches fire? Now you know!” a user sharing the 25-seconds-long clip wrote on Twitter ( here ).
“Electric buses… they are the future!” reads a Facebook post with the clip ( here ) that has garnered over 53,000 views.
Other iterations are viewable ( here ) ( here ) ( here ).
While it is true that fires can happen with electric vehicles ( here ), ( here ), the engine of the vehicle in this highly-shared clip, was powered with natural gas and diesel, a spokesperson for the Perugia fire command told Reuters.
Local reports described it to be a methane bus in Perugia, Italy ( here ), ( here ). Another video featured in the reports carries a watermark on the right corner of Italian firefighters “Vigili del Fuoco.”
Reuters found both clips were published with a higher resolution in a Facebook Group named “Vigili del Fuoco Perugia” on April 16 ( here ) ( here ).
According to the description (originally in Italian), the bus powered with “methane” caught on fire on the SP 344 road, leaving Ponte della Pietra. Only a mechanic was on board.
Reuters geolocated the clips ( bit.ly/3xPfYVr ) (see around timestamp 0:13) ( here ) ( bit.ly/3k1z1Ug ) (see around timestamp 0:17) ( here ).
Contacted by Reuters, Stefano Pettinari, department head of the Perugia firefighters who originally published the videos confirmed the engine of the vehicle was powered with natural gas (methane) and diesel.
“A mechanic was testing it due to a reported failure. Probably due to an electrical short, it caught fire,” he said.
The burned bus resembles the vehicles seen ( here ), ( here ), ( here ) (see front logo in white) which include the label “io vado a metano” which translates to “I'm running on methane.”
In 2003, website Click Mobility reported that the then public transport company in Perugia (L'Azienda Perugina della Mobilità) had acquired a fleet of methane powered buses ( here ).
As explained by the U.S. Department of Energy ( here ), natural gas is a fossil fuel which is mainly composed of methane. Burning it produces about half as much CO2 as coal to produce the same energy and while it has been touted as a “bridge fuel” to a renewables-heavy future, climate scientists have expressed concerns that using it as a “bridge” could end up locking the world into a high-carbon and fast-warming future ( here ).
Miscaptioned. This video does not show a battery-powered vehicle on fire. According to the Perugia firefighters’ department, the engine of the bus ran with natural gas and diesel.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.