Maryland school bus driver lauded for saving 20 children from burning bus

Posted at 9:28 AM, Sep 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-14 09:33:05-04

A Maryland bus driver is being hailed as a hero after she helped rescue 20 elementary school students from a school bus completely enveloped in flames.

Officials in Prince George's County said that around 4:45 p.m. Monday, firefighters were called to a school bus fire in College Park, ABC News reports. Dash-cam footage captured and released Monday by fire officials showed bright-orange flames erupting inside the bus.

Bus driver Renita Smith said Tuesday that she'd just made her third or fourth stop when the vehicle's dashboard started beeping. Smith said she stopped the bus, prepared to call for a backup vehicle and then looked in her rear-view mirror.

That's when she saw the flames.

"I put the mic back down, undid my seatbelt, jumped up, got my babies and got off," she told ABC News. "Once we got off, neighbors kicked right into 'Mommy mode,' as I call it, and helped the kids get to a safe haven. When that was going on, I ran back onto the bus to make sure there was no children on the bus...By the time I got to the last step on the bus, it just went up in smoke."

Fazlul Kabir, who noticed the smoke from a roadway and went to help,told ABC News that neighbors and residents were proud of Smith.

"The bus was completely destroyed by the fire," Kabir said. "Without (Smith), the school children couldn't be actually saved...She went inside for the very last time. She went inside and checked each seat to see if any of the students were left there...It's a fairly long bus actually. It's not a small bus. She checked if everyone was out and nobody was inside...She's brave."

No one was injured, fire officials said. Most of the children were picked up at the scene of the blaze by their parents.

Read more from ABC News here