School Bus Erupts in Flames in Rancho Santa Margarita; Driver Praised for Helping Students to Safety

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A bus driver was being praised Friday morning after escorting students safely off a bus that became engulfed in flames near the front entrance of a school in Rancho Santa Margarita.

A witness's video showed a school bus engulfed in flames outside a middle school in Rancho Santa Margarita on Friday, March 27, 2015. (Credit: David Fogal)

A witness's video showed a school bus engulfed in flames outside a middle school in Rancho Santa Margarita on Friday, March 27, 2015. (Credit: David Fogal)

The incident began about 8:15 a.m. just outside the campus of Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School, said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority.

The bus driver, whose name was not disclosed, noticed smoke coming from the vehicle's engine area. She evacuated 35 7th and 8th graders from the bus and led them away to safe location, Concialdi said. When flames erupted she made an attempt to put them out by using a fire extinguisher.

Firefighters arrived to find the vehicle on fire and heavy smoke showing, Concialdi said. The blaze was extinguished by 8:28 a.m.

No one was physically injured, but two students were treated by firefighter-paramedics because they were "emotionally upset by the scene," the Fire Authority said on Twitter.

"The bus driver diver did an excellent job of getting all the students off the bus safely," according to the agency.

The woman's supervisor, Melvin Florence, said she "did everything right."

"She wouldn't consider herself a hero but I think she actually has some hero qualities," Florence said. "I'm very proud of her."

The cause of the incident was not immediately known.