A primary school trip to Warwick Castle ended in terror after the coach the children were travelling on burst into flames on the motorway.
Year 1 pupils aged 5 and 6 were en route to the historic castle from Yorkswood Primary in Kingshurst. At about 10am, the double decker bus was travelling on the M42 when a fire broke out. The driver pulled on to the hard shoulder and the children were evacuated to safety behind the barrier.
Fire crews were quickly on the scene and ambulances and paramedics also attended the scene of the fire on the Southbound carriageway of the M42 between Junction 5 for Solihull and Junction 4 for Shirley.
Tracey Howard’s grandson Charlie was one of the pupils on the bus; she said her daughter Lianne was distraught when she heard of the fire: “The first my daughter knew was when there was a bang at the door. Her friend said she had had a call from the school saying what had happened. All Lianne wanted was to have Charlie home. The children were taken back to school and parents were told the pupils could either stay there or go home.
“I have spoken to Charlie. He said: ‘Nanny, I was scared. I thought I was going to be burned.’ He said he never wanted to go to Warwick Castle again.”
A spokesman for the West Midlands Fire Service said: “A fire broke out on the outside of the bus and we sent three fire engines from Solihull, Hay Mills and Billesley. The driver had put out the fire, which started in the wiring behind a rear panel. Ambulances were called because a couple of the children were complaining of breathing in smoke.”
A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We were called to reports of a large number of patients who had suffered smoke inhalation after exhaust fumes from the coach they were travelling were believed to have started entering the passenger cabin,” he said.
“A total of 53 school children, eight members of staff and the driver were all safely taken off the vehicle and moved behind a barrier away from the roadside. Crews then began assessing the patients and once it was determined that no-one was seriously injured, they were moved back on to the vehicle out of the cold.
“By this stage it had been determined that it was safe for them to return to. Once back on the vehicle, the patients had their carbon monoxide levels checked, after which it was determined that no-one required hospital treatment and all 62 patients were discharged at scene. A second coach was sent to the scene to provide the school children with onward travel.”