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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Teacher tells of escape drama before coach erupted in flames on A590 Cumbria

A DEPUTY headteacher who led the evacuation of pupils from a coach which later burst into flames has praised everyone who helped keep the children safe and calm.

Forty children and five adults from Sir John Barrow School, Ulverston, had a lucky escape after the return journey of their school trip ended in a dramatic bus fire on the A590. The group was heading back to school on Wednesday afternoon after a trip to Morecambe.

The driver pulled the Travellers Choice coach into a layby across from the Rusland Pool Hotel, Haverthwaite, after noticing problems.

The driver and the deputy head, Mike Hindle, immediately decided that they must evacuate the bus which was full of nine-year-olds, teachers and helpers.

Everyone got off the bus and smoke started to pour out of the back of the vehicle. Mr Hindle and others stopped the traffic and the teachers guided the children across the busy road into the grounds of the Rusland Pool Hotel.

The plumes of black smoke were followed by flames which burnt out the vehicle. Fire crews from Ulverston and Grange were called out just after 5.15pm.

The Year four children and teachers were looked after by the hotel team, where they received free pop and crisps and tea, before a replacement bus arrived.

Mums and dads have applauded the teachers and all those who helped.

Yvonne Seale, whose daughter was on the coach said: “I would like to thank all the staff and helpers for getting the kids off the coach so quickly as this could have been a very different story.”

Mr Hindle told the Evening Mail: “I asked the children for their attention and reassured them there was nothing to worry about but we needed to get off the bus.

“We needed to get the children as far away from the bus as possible and keep them safe, we saw the danger.

“I knew this was potentially frightening for the children but the last thing we wanted was panicking, so we kept it calm. Everyone dealt with the situation incredibly professionally.

“A few of the children were upset but they calmed. By this time the bus had burst into flames. The children and staff were being well looked after by the team at Rusland Pool.

“We are very grateful to them and to the driver, the fire service and all those who helped. The children were very well behaved.”

Everyone was back in school the next day writing school newspaper reports about the event. With a few describing it as “the best school trip ever”.

Fire service watch manager Phil Stannett said: “The fire started in the engine compartment, we suspect it might have been electrical but we have not done a full investigation.”

Mr Stannett said the warm, dry day might have had something to do with it and added: “The whole coach was destroyed, it is a very rare occurrence. It’s very unusual especially because this was a relatively new coach.”

He said a full investigation into the cause of the fire would most likely be carried out by the owner’s insurance company.

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