Fifty-nine children and seven teachers had a “miracle escape” when their coach burst into flames as it travelled along a busy motorway.
The hero driver pulled onto the hard shoulder and helped evacuate the terrified pupils and staff who scrambled to safety moments before the coach exploded into a fireball.
Dramatic pictures show The Green Bus engulfed in flames on the M6 at 3.40pm on Monday (23/5).
Traffic was brought to a standstill on the northbound carriageway at junction 3A near Birmingham and three of the four lanes remained closed until 7.30pm.
The quick-thinking Eavesway Travel of Wigan driver loaded the school onto his coach and took them to a nearby museum where a replacement bus picked them up.
Two ambulances, a paramedic area support officer and a senior paramedic officer rushed to the scene where 13 children and the driver were assessed for smoke inhalation.
Four ten-year-old girls were taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for further checks but were later discharged.
The northbound M6 was completely blocked while fire crews extinguished the blaze and a crane was used to remove the burnt-out coach once the fire had been tackled.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “On arrival crews were greeted by the sight of a double decker bus that had been reduced to smouldering remains.
“Thankfully the 59 children and seven staff on board, who come from the Black Country, were safely sitting on a second coach that had stopped to offer assistance.
“In total, 13 children and the coach driver were assessed for smoke inhalation.
“Four ten-year-old girls were taken by ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for further assessment, though their conditions are not thought to be serious.
“The Trust would like to pay tribute to the Eavesway Travel of Wigan coach driver who spotted the issue, stopped at the side of the motorway and helped evacuate the children.
“He then kept them and their teachers safe on his coach while firefighters dealt with the blaze.
“He then took them to the Motorcycle Museum where they were meeting up with a replacement coach to take them on their way.
“This could clearly have been a much more serious incident but for the quick actions of the coach drivers, teachers and children.”
Driver John Williams, 35, who witnessed the fire, said: “The coach was well ablaze when I drove past. It went up so fast and you could feel the heat of the flames from a long way back. It’s a miracle everyone got out safely.”