school bus blaze
SCHOOLCHILDREN were forced to flee from a burning bus after a serious blaze broke out on board.
The fire gutted the SM Coaches bus after it caught alight on the A414 near the turn off for the Hadhams shortly after 8am today (Monday March 16).
The driver and 47 passengers were forced to evacuate the vehicle. No-one was injured.
Some of the children were from St Mary's Catholic School in Windhill, Bishop's Stortford.
Three fire engines - one from Ware, one from Hertford and a crew from Harlow - attended the scene.
The blaze, which was extinguished by 9.14am, gutted the coach.
One eyewitness said: "It was awful. I was driving past and I saw all the kids up on the bank.
"The flames were huge. I've never seen anything like that before - only on television. It's amazing that no-one was injured."
Police closed the road between the Great Amwell roundabout and Harlow and it is still closed until the vehicle can be recovered.
Gary Sanderson, spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: "On our arrival the school coach was ablaze. Approximately 40 children who were on the coach were led to a place of safety and there were no injuries."
A paramedic ambulance was placed on standby at the scene while firefighters brought the blaze under control.
Two more buses owned by the company were also seen broken down during the morning rush hour.
The first was on the A414 near Harlow and the second on the A10 roundabout at its junction with the A414.
A spokeswoman for the Harlow-based bus operator said they could not comment as investigations were ongoing.
In December 2007 the engine of a minibus owned by SM Coaches burst into flames on the A414 between the Great Amwell roundabout and the A10 turn off.