Police hunting for arsonists who torched a double-decker BUS have released CCTV images of two boys believed to have started the blaze.
Passengers fled from the £150,000 National Express West Midlands vehicle when it exploded into a fireball on the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, on June 12.
Three fire engines rushed to the scene and two firefighters needed breathing apparatus to tackle the severe blaze which broke out at around 2pm.
Shocking pictures taken at the scene show the top deck of the number 2 bus completely ablaze with thick black smoke pouring out the windows.
Firefighters took just half-an-hour to put out the “severe” fire and luckily all ten people on board managed to escape without being injured.
Yesterday, West Midlands Police said the intense blaze was started after paper was set alight on the back seat of the upper deck.
Officers have also released CCTV footage taken from the bus which shows two boys they want to trace in connection with the fire.
Pictures show the lads sitting at the back of the vehicle with one of them appearing to point at something nearby and laugh.
The camera then catches the boy, who is wearing a white cap and shorts, smiling as he quickly follows his friend, who is wearing a white t-shirt, to the front of the top deck of the bus.
PC Chris Burns, who is leading the investigation, said: “There were 10 people on board who were lucky enough to get away before the fire took hold.
“We believe it was started after paper was set alight on the back seat of the upper deck.
“I am appealing for anyone who knows the two boys in the images to come forward or for the lads themselves to make contact with me and my team.
“We know they boarded the bus at Maypole and got off at Stratford Road near to Beach Road.
“The bus is a write-off but it could have been much worse because lives were put at risk and it’s important those responsible are held accountable for their actions.”
The number 2 bus runs from Birmingham city centre and goes through Sparkbrook and Yardley Wood before terminating at Maypole in the southern suburbs.
Speaking after the incident on June 12, a spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: “We got the call at 2.10pm to the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook.
“It involved a severe fire on a double-decker bus. We had two firefighters with breathing apparatus and used two hose reel jets and a covering jet to stop the fire spreading.
“The stop message came through at 2.43pm and the incident is now believed to be arson so police are in attendance and will be dealing with it.”
Anyone who can assist with the investigation should contact PC Chris Burns from West Midlands Police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.