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Bus driver hailed after double-decker consumed by flames on A12

PUBLISHED: 12:54 26 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:54 26 July 2019

Crews were called to the scene of the fire at around 10.45am Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Crews were called to the scene of the fire at around 10.45am Picture: ESSEX POLICE

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A hero bus driver has been praised for safely evacuating nearly 70 people from his double-decker after it went up in flames on the A12.

Flames and smoke poured out of the bus as it stood burning at the side of the A12 Picture: @CCRinthemiddleFlames and smoke poured out of the bus as it stood burning at the side of the A12 Picture: @CCRinthemiddle

The Ipswich Buses service was taking a group of passengers on a day trip to Southend when it caught fire on the southbound carriageway, close to the slip road of junction 18 at Danbury, near Chelmsford, around 10.45am on Friday.

ALmost 70 people were evacuated from the bus Picture: @CCRinthemiddleALmost 70 people were evacuated from the bus Picture: @CCRinthemiddle

The driver noticed smoke coming from the bus and pulled over before making sure all his passengers got off the vehicle safely.

Four fire crews, from Chelmsford, Great Baddow, Billericay, and Brentwood, attended and managed to extinguish the blaze by 11.30am, but the bus was completely destroyed.

The vehicle suffered extendsive damage during the blaze Picture: ESSEX POLICEThe vehicle suffered extendsive damage during the blaze Picture: ESSEX POLICE

The incident closed the southbound carriageway for several hours and also caused delays northbound.

Most of the bus was gutted by the fire-Picture: ESSEX POLICEMost of the bus was gutted by the fire-Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Stephen Bryce, general manager at Ipswich Buses, hailed the driver as a "true professional".

"The bus was operating on a day trip to Southend when the driver noticed some smoke and pulled over," he said.

"He evacuated the passengers from the bus and made sure they were safe.

"Unfortunately, the bus has been destroyed. Nobody has been injured, that is the main thing.

"I would like to praise the driver for his excellent response in making sure all the passengers were safe.

"He is a true professional and should be commended."

A spokesman for Essex Fire and Rescue Service said: "When fire crews arrived they reported that everyone from the bus had already been safely evacuated.

"The police also assisted at the scene to close part of the roadway, so firefighters could deal with the fire safely and due to the smoke blowing over the road.

"Firefighters then requested the assistance of the Highways Agency to deal with a large fuel spill on the roadway.

"Crews assisted to make the roadway safe before leaving the scene in the care of the police and Highways Agency.

The spokesman added that the the cause of the fire was recorded as accidental.

A spokesman for Essex Police's Chelmsford and Maldon Local Policing Team said 68 people were evacuated from the double decker bus and "thankfully there were no injuries".

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