VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- About 35 students had to be evacuated from a school bus in Visalia Thursday after the engine caught fire at the intersection of Noble Avenue and Demaree Street.
The bus driver was dropping students off after school from Central Valley Christian when she noticed the smoke.
“I looked out my window and I saw smoke. So I pulled my brake, opened the doors, told the kids to stay there, ran out and around the bus, and saw there was a lot of smoke,” said bus driver Karen Pace. “Ran back on the bus and told the kids, ‘We are doing an evacuation. The bus might be on fire.'”
“My bus driver just sprinted to go check what it is because we all said that there was smoke, and then after she was just all, ‘Okay we’re going to do this as a group!’ And then we had to count how many kids were there, and we had to run off the bus, and it was really scary,” said Mylah, a 3rd grader who was on the bus.
The bus driver was able to get all the students off the bus within minutes before firefighters arrived, with no injuries.
“She truly is the hero in the situation. She’s really the first responder making sure they all got out of the bus safely,” said Cayla Erickson, who had three children on the bus. “I thank her from the bottom of my heart.”
The bus driver said the kids played a big part in the safe evacuation as well, using what they’d learned from their drills.
“I helped out by just staying behind to make sure all the seats were empty because I just didn’t want anybody to be left behind because it was scary for little kids and kids that are older than me,” said Sean, a 6th grader who was on the bus.
The bus driver and the students also wanted to thank the firefighters, the other drivers who stopped to help, and the Save Mart employees who brought them water while they waited for another bus.