May 18 2013 Latest news:
by Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Friday, October 12, 2012
A Cranham bus driver and local fire crews have been praised for saving lives as first smoke and then fire engulfed a 248 last Friday morning.
Crews from Hornchurch and Harold Hill were called to the blazing vehicle in Front Lane, Cranham, at 8.18. Firefighters said the bus, which was 40 per cent alight when they arrived, had been gutted within half an hour.
As smoke plumed high into the air, the driver ensured everyone was off the bus and safe, while the local fire service battled to bring the inferno under control.
London Ambulance Service confirmed there had been no casualties.
“I was doing a paper round with my friend and we saw the smoke, so we came down to see if anyone needed help,” said Hall Mead pupil Gareth Withers, 15.
“It started off as really big smoke coming out, going 100 foot up – we weren’t sure what it was.
“I was talking to my friend and there was a bang. It had literally just caught fire as we were standing there. I asked if anyone had called the fire brigade.”
A spokesman for Havering police said there appeared to have been an engine failure. Transport for London did not offer comment.
Officers closed roads around Front Lane to deal with the incident.
Cllr Gillian Ford (Cranham, Residents’ Association) was at the scene.
“I spoke to the bus driver and he said he saw smoke within the bus, so he evacuated all the passengers,” she said.
“Within 10 minutes, the bus was up in flames. It went up very quickly, probably because of the fibreglass and the upholstery.
“I think credit needs to go to the driver for evacuating the passengers safely, and to the fire brigade for getting there quickly.”
Bus user Samantha Elliott, who was at the Front Lane stop when the bus began to smoke, echoed Cllr Ford’s praise for the driver.
“I came along as it stated smoking from the front,” she said. “I was thinking maybe we shouldn’t be standing that close to it. As I was standing at the bus stop, smoke started coming out the back of the bus - and I thought, ‘That’s not good.’
“I felt sorry for the bus driver because he kept getting on and off, making sure everyone was away and safe.”
Within minutes of her arrival, a second bus came along and took Samantha to safety.
“It must have been a few minutes after we left that the bus exploded, so it’s a miracle that we weren’t all standing there a few minutes later,” she said.
“I shall never moan about the timing of buses again.”