Quick-thinking driver, student, helped 10 escape WA school bus inferno

A bus driver and nine schoolchildren made a lucky escape when their vehicle burst into flames and turned into a fireball in far north of Western Australia Friday morning.

Six primary school students and three high schoolers were in the bus as it was travelling along Victoria Highway in Kununurra at 7.40am when smoke emerged from the back of the vehicle moments before a tyre blew out.

A school bus burst into flames and turned into a fireball in Kununurra, far northern Western Australia. Picture: WA News
A school bus burst into flames and turned into a fireball in Kununurra, far northern Western Australia. Picture: WA News

"The bus driver noticed he was losing power, and one of the children alerted the driver to smoke at the back of the bus," WA Police said in a statement.

The driver pulled over and Year 9 student Nadia Olawsky, the bus prefect, ushered the other children off the bus safely, the West Australian reported.

The road was closed off, and fire crews attended the scene and extinguished the fire. St John Ambulance also attended as a precaution, however all occupants had already evacuated safely.

"Luckily the nine children on board and the driver were able to get off the bus before the fire took hold," Kununurra police OIC Steve Principe said.

"The fire took hold of the bus and it's been totally incinerated."

A replacement bus met the students, who were driven to Kununurra District High School and met by the senior leadership team, chaplain and psychologist.

"[The students] feel pretty lucky that they walked away from the bus, but I dare say that once the anxiety leaves them there'll be a bit of an exciting story to tell their friends," Mr Principe said.

He praised the driver's quick response to pull over and evacuate the children.

The nine children on board and the driver were able to get off the bus before the fire took hold. Picture: WA Police
The nine children on board and the driver were able to get off the bus before the fire took hold. Picture: WA Police

"The driver was quite fantastic in their response, they were able to just get the kids off the bus and move them away from it and kept them nice and safe."

Department of Education bus contractor Darryl Pearce agreed.

“Everyone was safe and sound because of [the driver's] actions,” Mr Pearce said.

“We know the fire started in the rear and before too long the bus was alight.

“We’re very glad everyone is OK, it’s a sad day but buses can be replaced.”

The driver quickly pulled over and evacuated the children before the bus burst into flames. Picture: WA Police
The driver quickly pulled over and evacuated the children before the bus burst into flames. Picture: WA Police

Principal Peter Thatcher said congratulated 14-year-old Nadia for "a wonderful job, working with her peers and making sure they were all looked after".

"She played the role of student bus prefect incredibly well,” he said.

“We got a very good result. Fire and emergency, police and the bus driver did a great job and my staff rallied accordingly."

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