In a harrowing incident on the B4215 in Highleadon, a school bus driver is being hailed as a hero for swiftly evacuating students from a coach that caught fire while transporting children from Newent Community School. The incident, which occurred at 3:49 pm, saw the rapid response of emergency services, but fortunately, no injuries were reported among the students.
The coach, operated by Applegates Coaches, was ablaze for an hour before Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service managed to extinguish the flames. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, with reports suggesting it may have originated in the roof area where the air conditioning and blower motors are situated. The director of Applegates Coaches revealed that an external investigator has been enlisted to determine the exact cause.
Despite the intensity of the situation, the quick thinking and training of the bus driver averted a potential disaster. The driver managed to position the vehicle in a way that facilitated the easy evacuation of students, directing them to the nearest safe location. Although the driver lost personal belongings in the process, the primary focus was on ensuring the safety of the children.
Expressing gratitude, the director of Applegates Coaches said, “Drivers are trained for emergency procedures, and we have received a lot of positive comments from parents praising the driver for their swift actions.” The incident highlights the importance of ongoing safety measures, including regular vehicle inspections, with the latest examination carried out in mid-December, just days before the incident.
Gloucestershire County Council played a crucial role in managing the aftermath of the incident. A replacement bus was promptly dispatched to transport students home, and the road near Newent was temporarily closed to facilitate emergency crews’ work. The director extended appreciation to the council, saying, “We would also like to thank Gloucestershire County Council for their extremely swift actions in communications and assisting us in organizing replacement vehicles and liaising directly with authorities on the scene.”
The incident prompted an expression of gratitude from Applegates Coaches to H&H Coaches for swiftly removing the children from the roadside. Despite the challenges, the collaborative efforts of emergency services and various transport entities ensured the safety of all involved.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service received the alert at 3:49 pm, dispatching two engines from Gloucester North and Cheltenham East to the scene. The absence of injuries and the successful containment of the blaze by 5 pm underscored the effectiveness of their response.
A spokesperson for Gloucestershire County Council acknowledged the efforts of emergency services and expressed relief that no injuries were reported. The council’s prompt deployment of a replacement bus and support staff demonstrated their commitment to the well-being of the students. The incident will undergo a thorough review to gain insights into the chain of events and to further enhance safety measures.
In conclusion, the commendable actions of the bus driver, the coordinated response from emergency services, and the support from transport agencies and local authorities have averted a potential tragedy. As investigations continue into the cause of the fire, the incident serves as a reminder of the importance of rigorous safety protocols in ensuring the well-being of students during their commute.