CHILDREN were evacuated from their school bus which later burst into flames on the A421 on Friday evening.
The bus was taking 11 children back home from Harpur Trust schools in Bedford when the driver was made aware by another motorist that there was a problem with the double decker coach.
It is believed that the children were travelling from Bedford Girls School, Bedford School and Bedford Modern School to their homes in Mid Bedfordshire.
A spokesman for Souls Coaches, who were operating the service, said: “The driver was alerted by a lorry driver who was following him that there was smoke coming from the back of the vehicle.
“He went to the back of the vehicle and realised that there was a problem and evacuated the children to a place of safety.
“There were no flames in the vehicle when the children were in it and there was a substantial amount of time from the children being the vehicle to what the pictures show.”
The spokesman added: “The driver was absolutely magnificent and acted according to his training.”
Following the incident, which happened close to traffic lights going towards the M1, the coach company have launched an investigation.
Motorist Milly Moore, 24, was on her way to a holiday in Dorset when she saw the flames and captured this image.
She said: “There were screaming and crying school children at the side of the road. Traffic was chaos because there was thick black smoke and it was very traumatic.”
The fire service were called to the scene at 6.11pm and crews from Kempston, Potton and Broughton tackled the blaze for two hours.
Police also attended the incident and put a road block in place until damage had been assessed. Southbound traffic was reopened by 10.15pm but Westbound traffic did not reopen til 4am on Saturday morning due to damage to the road.
A spokesman for Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The most important thing is that the driver and the passengers all got off the bus safely.
“We received a huge number of calls and we were able to get there quickly.”
And this week a spokesman from the Harpur Trust, to which four private school in Bedford belong, said: “We are very thankful that all the children are safe.
“Children will be offered support and counselling if they need it.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Bedford
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North