BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - Four students survived a harrowing incident Thursday thanks to their driver and an aide who pulled them from a burning school bus.
Osseo Public Schools spokesperson Barb Olson says the special needs bus caught fire around 7:45 a.m. near the intersection of Brookdale Avenue and Yates Avenues. The driver and a nurse aide aboard scrambled and got the four students, two of them in wheelchairs, safely off the burning bus.
The students were loaded into another bus and transported to Elm Creek Elementary School.
"The bus driver did a nice job," said Brooklyn Park Police Commander Mark Bruley. "He didn't hesitate."
Bruley said the driver, who works for First Student, first detected smoke inside the bus and then saw flames coming from the firewall toward the front of the vehicle.
By the time firefighters arrived, the "bus was pretty much gutted," Bruly said.
First Student spokesperson Stephanie Creech said drivers are pretty well trained, so "we expect that they can handle these types of situations."
Creech tells KARE 11 that the driver got both of the students in wheelchairs off immediately, then got the other two students off and grabbed the fire extinguisher. She said the driver, whose identity was not being disclosed, has been with First Student for six years and "is a very good driver, highly regarded, particularly now."
Investigators are expecting the bus in an effort to determine how the fire started.