MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio - A school bus driver is being commended for following protocol and safely evacuating her 20 students before her bus burst into flames.
"There is a school bus on fire, like, fully engulfed in flames on Middletown-Germantown Road. There are flames shooting all over the place,” a man called 911 Tuesday afternoon, according to the Journal-News.
“The bus overheated and the driver just called in and said it has caught on fire around the engine," Larry Osborne of the Madison Schools transportation department said in a separate 911 call.
A Petermann Transportation spokesperson told WCPO the driver was the hero and that she and the students properly evacuated through the front and back of the bus. The spokesperson said the driver called on the radio as soon as she saw the flames, helping get an extra bus to take the students back home only 10 minutes late.
The bus driver made sure Madison Township Fire Chief Kent Hall's worst fears weren't realized. Hall said the kids were out of the burning bus and on their way home before the fire trucks even arrived at the scene.
"The big concern for us because it wasn't too clear (was) if there were kids involved,” Hall said. “It was discovered the school had a bus in the area and had already unloaded the kids onto another bus and continued with the route before we even got on the scene."
Pamela Elam, who has three grandkids in Madison Schools, didn't want to think about what might have happened.
"It is scary. I've never really heard of something like that," Elam said.
None of Elam's grandkids were on the bus that caught fire, but Elam said she knows the driver.
"I thought, ‘What if they would've been the ones on the bus? How would you have gotten the kindergartners off the bus so quickly?' "
Madison Schools gave WCPO a statement Wednesday, saying there was a “malfunction of one of our transportation contractor Peterman's buses yesterday."
According to the statement, the driver and students remained calm and followed all protocols to exit the bus safely.
The fire chief also gave credit to the bus driver.
"She had the kids evacuate from the rear and front of the bus, so apparently it was a quick evacuation from the bus, which is proper procedure,” Hall said. “And with the kids being gone that fast to my arrival, apparently everything was done correctly."
Madison schools said they are working with Petermann to determine what caused the fire.
Meanwhile, the Madison Fire Department says it's looking for a way to reward the bus driver
The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO 9 On Your Side.