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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Schoolchildren and teachers have lucky escape from South Cumbria coach fire

SCHOOLCHILDREN and teachers had a lucky escape after they evacuated a coach which then burst into flames.

A school party of around 40 from Sir John Barrow Primary School in Ulverston was returning home from a trip to Morecambe when the drama unfolded on the A590 yesterday afternoon.

The Travellers Choice bus was pulled over in a layby across from the Rusland Pool Hotel, Haverthwaite after the driver noticed problems.

The quick-thinking driver and teachers made sure everyone got off the bus immediately and no-one was hurt.

Smoke poured out of the back of the single decker and it then dramatically set on fire to the horror of those at the scene.

Fire crews from Ulverston and Grange were called out just after 5.15pm and they were on the scene quickly. The burnt-out shell of the rear of the bus was then clear for all to see on the carriageway.

The Year four children were taken to the Rusland Pool Hotel, where they received free pop and crisps whole they waited for a replacement bus to take them back to school.

There was also a second coach on the trip carrying Year three children and staff.

Headteacher Helen Pemberton has today said: “Returning from a school visit to Morecambe the coach driver recognised there was a problem with the coach and pulled into a layby on the A590 opposite the Rusland Pool Hotel. The deputy headteacher immediately evacuated the children from the coach and took them to the Rusland Pool Hotel.
“The fire service and police were quickly on the scene and took charge of the incident while the children and school staff were well looked after by staff at the Rusland Pool Hotel who provided drinks and snacks until a replacement coach arrived to takes us back to school.
“The school was informed immediately and we were able to keep parents informed of the situation and reassure them about their children’s safety.
“Our thanks go to the emergency services and staff at Rusland Pool who assisted us in ensuring that all children were kept safe and away from harm at all times and I’d like to thank the school staff for the way they handled the situation.”

Travellers Choice managing director John Shaw told the Evening Mail that the incident was investigated by the fire service at the scene and that it was also being investigated by the company.

Mr Shaw praised the professionalism of all, including the driver.

He said: “This is a very rare occurrence. To be fair to the driver he made sure all the children and teachers got off as quickly as possible and called the fire brigade

“The fire brigade were there 10 minutes after.”

Parents had said that the children were scared but were happy and excited by the time they got back to school.

Eyewitness David Chadwick, the practice manager at Livingstons Solicitors, Ulverston, was cycling home to Grange when he saw the dramatic scene.

Mr Chadwick said: “I could see smoke ahead and as I got to the front of the queuing traffic I saw the children and teachers crossing the road.

“The bus had smoke coming out of the back. It got heavier and then you could hear loud cracking and there was flames shooting up. It was dramatic.

“I’d like to say how well the teachers did.

“They were very organised and the driver was also helping too. They all did very well.

“It could have been a lot worse. I’m glad everyone was safe.”

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