Children led to safety before school coach catches fire

The blazing coach
Image caption The schoolchildren had been due to go on a trip to a zoo

A driver has been praised for his "swift actions" after 28 schoolchildren were led to safety moments before their coach burst into flames.

Fire crews were called at about 10:00 GMT to the A421 near Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, after smoke was seen coming from the vehicle.

The coach, also carrying four adults, was on its way to Whipsnade Zoo.

A fire service spokesman said the driver's actions ensured no-one was hurt.

Investigation started

The pupils were from Oakdale Primary School in Stanground near Peterborough. Parents of the children have been told.

"As soon as he smelt smoke he pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road and made sure everyone got off safely and was a safe distance away," the fire service spokesman said.

"His swift actions ensured everyone got off safely and no-one was hurt."

He said the "extensive" fire ignited after the children had left the coach.

It is not yet known what caused the blaze.

Image caption The actions of the driver were praised by fire crews

Head teacher Yolanda Stewart said: "We would like to thank the bus driver for the way he dealt with this incident.

"His swift action meant that the children were quickly safe from harm."

Roger Gretton, owner of Peterborough-based Grettons Coaches, said an investigation would take place into what caused the fire.

But he praised the actions of the coach driver, who has worked for the company for more than 10 years.

"We're very pleased how he handled the situation," said Mr Gretton.

A replacement bus was organised by the company to return the children to their school.

The road was temporarily closed while fire crews dealt with the incident.

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