Firm investigates bus fire drama

A BUS company was today investigating the cause of a blaze which forced the evacuation of passengers from one of its vehicles.

Grant Sherlock

A BUS company was today investigating the cause of a blaze which forced the evacuation of passengers from one of its vehicles.

Ipswich-company Far East Travel said it was initially unclear what caused the fire to break out in the engine compartment of the Bawdsey-Ipswich number 71 bus at Melton this afternoon.

Firefighters were called to Wilford Bridge Road at about 2.05pm after the driver noticed a problem with the bus.

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He immediately pulled over outside the Five Winds Farm smokehouse and butchery and evacuated up to eight passengers.

Witness John Kerr said the fire quickly spread from the engine block at the back of the bus to the rear tyres.

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He said: “The fire was really going quite well. They were squirting water all over it.

“The bus was full of smoke. The road was blocked.”

Another witness, Gi Grieco, said: “There was thick smoke across the road.”

George Bell was working inside the butcher's shop when the bus pulled up.

He said: “We were in the shop serving and then there were two loud bangs. If you can imagine being close to a shotgun when it goes off that's what it sounded like.

“When we went out to investigate we saw the bus.

“The driver had pulled over to the side of the road to evacuate all the passengers. Then he pulled up on the forecourt outside the shop to pull over to safety.

“It started smoking as soon as he stopped then the flames started coming out within a minute.”

Mark Goddard, a butcher at Five Winds Farm, said: “We heard the bangs, it's only about 20 yards away. The driver did all he could. “He got the people off. There's heavy smoke damage at the front but the back is completely gone.”

Far East Travel managing director Ed Nicholls praised the driver for his swift action in getting the passengers off the bus.

He said: “Thankfully everyone was safe. Paramount in the driver's thoughts was the safety of the passengers.”

Mr Nicholls said the damage to the bus was “extensive”.

“We're looking at what caused it. We've got to consult with our engineers,” he said.

The fire is now out, but the blackened bus remains in position although it has been moved off the road. Travel will not be affected.

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