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Lenham school children flee bus moments before it bursts into flames outside Platts Heath Primary School

Dozens of secondary school pupils were evacuated from a coach - just moments before it burst into flames today.

Around 30 youngsters were on a bus heading to Swadelands School, in Ham Lane, Lenham, this morning when the driver noticed a fault.

The vehicle stopped outside Platts Heath Primary School, in Headcorn Road, and erupted into flames.

The coach erupted into a fireball outside Platts Heath Primary School. Picture: Nipper
The coach erupted into a fireball outside Platts Heath Primary School. Picture: Nipper

It was just moments after the children had been taken to safety at nearby St Edmunds hall by primary school teachers.

Some damage was caused to the building and a car also caught alight. The coach was gutted by the flames. No one was injured.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service crews was called to the scene at 8.35am.

Thick smoke poured from the blazing vehicle. Picture: Nipper
Thick smoke poured from the blazing vehicle. Picture: Nipper

The road was closed at the junction with Green Lane while firefighters worked to extinguish the two vehicles.

A diversion was put in place and police managed traffic at the scene. 

The primary school, which was not open at the time, will remain closed for the rest of the day - but is expected to reopen as usual tomorrow.

The Manns coach was gutted in the blaze. Picture: Nipper
The Manns coach was gutted in the blaze. Picture: Nipper

Witness Andy Flood, who lives in Liverton Hill, Sandway, was taking his son to Lenham Primary School when he saw the blaze. 

The 55-year-old said: "The smoke was really thick. I could see it from a couple of roads away. 

"Traffic was backed up around the village and it didn't help it was rush hour but the emergency services were diverting the traffic. 

"I spoke to someone at the scene and he said the driver got the kids off when a warning light came up on his dashboard. I'm just glad everyone is okay and safe."

School children fled this coach in Platts Heath moments before it burst into flames. Picture: Andy Flood
School children fled this coach in Platts Heath moments before it burst into flames. Picture: Andy Flood
Emergency services at the scene of the dramatic coach blaze. Picture: Andy Flood
Emergency services at the scene of the dramatic coach blaze. Picture: Andy Flood
The coach was covered in foam as firefighters battled the blaze. Picture: Andy Flood
The coach was covered in foam as firefighters battled the blaze. Picture: Andy Flood

A Kent County Council spokesman said: "We have contacted the transport operator, Manns Travel Ltd, who informed us that the driver of the vehicle stopped immediately when he noticed something was wrong and evacuated the children to a safe place.

"No injuries have been reported. Managers are on scene trying to ascertain what happened and helping the police and fire Brigade with their enquiries.

"A replacement vehicle attended the scene to transport the children on to their destination. 

"We are very grateful the driver acted how he did and that no one was hurt..." - Gary Lindsey, Owens Coaches

"Manns Travel have been asked to provide a full report by the end of the day."

Gary Lindsey, a management consultant for Owens Coaches, which is part of Manns Travel, said the cause of the fire is not yet known but a full investigation will be carried out.

He added: "We are very grateful the driver acted how he did and that no one was hurt.

"I spoke to the headmaster of Platts Heath and he was there to marshall our students away from danger."

Mr Lindsey added its employees have recently undergone evacuation training for the mandatory Certificate of Professional Competence qualification.

It is understood the bus was reaching its final stop after collecting children in Broomfield, Kingswood, Ulcombe and Grafty Green.

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