Hero driver saves passengers from burning bus
Published: October 27, 2006 | 4957th good news item since 2003
AN heroic driver saved the lives of 12 passengers by hurrying them off his bus just seconds before it was engulfed by flames.
The driver, who modestly refuses to give his name, was driving through Marlow when he discovered the coach was on fire.
He evacuated all of his passengers seconds before flames up to 30ft high swept through the bus.
Tracy Hudson, landlady of the Earl of Cambridge pub, Queen’s Road, said that dis-aster was only seconds away.
She said: “It was really close. He had just got the last of the passengers off, and seconds later the bus just went up in flames.”
She added: “The bus was a towering inferno. The flames were massive, It was not a small fire.”
The quick-thinking driver has been praised by Buckinghamshire Fire Service spokesman Fraser Pearson, who said: “Everyone was able to leave the bus safely before what appeared to be merely smoke from the engine turned into a really bad fire.
“That driver deserves a pat on the back for his prompt action.”
The blaze started at the back of the bus, which was travelling from Reading to High Wycombe via Marlow, at 5pm.
Witness Ben Winstanley, 14, who lives in Copse Close, Marlow, spoke to the driver, who told him that he was forced to pull over because the engine was revving up and he was not able to find a gear.
The driver was unable to to switch the engine off at the ignition. So he then rushed to the back of the bus to find the emergency stop button.
Ben said that the driver was unable to do so because of the smoke.
So he swiftly cleared the passengers off the bus and called the emergency services.
Ben, a pupil at Great Marlow School was at home doing coursework at the time of the incident and thought he saw smoke billowing from the direction of the Earl of Cambridge pub.
He grabbed his camera and arrived on the scene just after the back end of the bus caught fire. turn to page 2
Of the passengers, he said: “They all got off and were relieved about the fact that there was no one left on it and that they had escaped in time.”
A crowd of up to 30 people, including some of the pub’s customers, turned up to see what was going on and take photos at the scene.
Police moved the crowd back to a safe distance while the firefighters extinguished the blaze, and Oxford Road was temporarily closed.
A spokesman for Arriva buses said that the bus had been taken back to the depot so that is can be examined by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
He said that, as yet, the cause of the fire is unknown.
“Nobody has been hurt and we are going to have to find out what happened to make sure it does not happen again,” the spokesman said.
He denied the vehicle was not roadworthy and said Arriva buses are serviced every four weeks and receive annual MOTs.
VOSA can also carry out spot checks on the buses.