A "hero" school bus driver in California directed students to exit a yellow bus just in the nick of time before it exploded in flames, authorities said.
The bus was dropping off students at Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School this morning when the fire started around 8:15 a.m., according to Steve Concialdi, captain of the Orange County Fire Authority. He called the bus driver a "hero."
The school, in Rancho Santa Margarita, said the "engine of the empty school bus spewed smoke and flames," according to its website.
The bus driver, whose name was not disclosed, noticed the engine was on fire, Concialdi said.
There were 35 students on board from the 7th and 8th grade, ages 12 to 14 years.
"[She] did an excellent job of getting all the students off safely. No one was injured. There were three kids who were emotionally distraught, who were treated by paramedics and released back to the school and parents. No one was transported to the hospital," Concialdi said.
Rancho Santa Margarita - At 815, a full size yellow bus caught fire in front of RSM Intermediate School. The fire was under control at 8:28— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) March 27, 2015
Concialdi, who said the fire started in the engine compartment at the front of the bus, said the incident is under investigation and the bus is now "a total loss."
The fire started a small vegetation fire next to the school, so the school followed evacuation procedures, moving 1,325 students to the sports fields. Then school continued in session today.
RSM - The school is located at 21931 Alma Aldea. All the students are safe and no one is injured. The bus driver is a hero.— OCFA PIO (@OCFA_PIO) March 27, 2015