Coach scare for sixty West Sussex schoolchildren forced to flee after bus is gutted in engine blaze on way to New Forest

Coach scare for sixty schoolchildren forced to flee after bus is gutted in engine blaze on busy main road
Three children taken to hospital with smoke inhalationParents called to pick up sons and daughters from school
Cafe staff look after pupils during wait for second coach to arrive

By
Diana Hargreaves

PUBLISHED:

16:18 GMT, 25 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:05 GMT, 25 January 2013

A coach transporting 55 schoolchildren and 11 teachers and helpers on a day trip was today evacuated after fire broke out in the engine.

The blaze took hold, burning fiercely and destroying the interior after all the 55 pupils, five teachers and six helpers had left the double decker,

Three children from Storrington First School, in West Sussex, were taken to Worthing Hospital by ambulance to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The blackened double decker, with its front completely destroyed, is towed away from the scene by a recovery truck

The blackened double decker, with its front completely destroyed, is towed away from the scene by a recovery truck

The interior of the coach shows the devastation wreaked by the blaze

The interior of the coach shows the devastation wreaked by the blaze

They were all allowed to leave with their parents, who had been called by the school, within an hour.

The blaze started at 8.45am as the
coach was on its way with the Year 5 children, aged nine and 10 years, to Beaulieu
National Motor Museum in Hampshire's New Forest.

Pupils were evacuated through the door at the back of the bus as the fire took hold in the engine compartment

Pupils were evacuated through the door at the back of the bus as the fire took hold in the engine compartment

The fire started on London Road, near Whiteways Lodge roundabout in Arundel, West Sussex.

Another coach was called to pick them
up and return them to the primary school.

During the 45 minutes before the second coach arrived, the group was looked after by staff in the cafe at Whiteways
Lodge.

Jo Spiers, the administrator at the school, said: 'Thankfully the children got off the coach before the fire took hold.

'A first aid-trained helper accompanied the children in the ambulance. They were only half an hour into their journey to Beaulieu, which was expected to take a couple of hours.

'The Year 5 children are studying the Second World War and this is what they were going to look at in the motor museum.'

Sergeant Alan Spicer of Sussex Police praised the calmness of the teachers and pupils.

He said: 'They remained calm throughout and listened to the directions of the emergency services.'

Headteacher Garry Smart said: 'The children have been safely returned back to school and have been collected by their families.'

Traffic was disrupted in the area while the fire was dealt with but it has now cleared, a police spokesman said.

Surveying the devastation - the top deck including the seats and the ceiling was severely damaged in the blaze

Surveying the devastation – the top deck including the seats and the ceiling was severely damaged in the blaze

The front of the coach was burned out before the flames travelled along the roof above the top deck

The front of the coach was burned out before the flames travelled along the roof above the top deck