Driver relives dramatic explosion on Norwich bus

A driver who averted a disaster by evacuating 40 passengers from a bus just minutes before it exploded has relived the drama - but said: 'I was just doing my job'.

Stuart Jones, a bus driver with 30 years experience, was speaking after being praised by bus company and council bosses for his quick thinking and 'calm professionalism'.

The double-decker park and ride bus he was driving caught fire following an engine fault as he drove near the Postwick roundabout, near the Broadland Business Park, Norwich, at about 5pm on Thursday.

As the fire spread quickly, witnesses reported hearing loud bangs and a plume of smoke could be seen on the Norwich skyline. The bus was completely destroyed by the flames, leaving nothing but a metal frame.

Mr Jones said: 'I saw a small amount of smoke as I pulled off the A47 and by the time I got to the roundabout there was a lot of smoke. A passing driver flashed me so I knew there was something wrong.

'I pulled over and got everybody off the bus. Within minutes the flames had taken hold and I was amazed at just how bad the fire was.

'This is what we are trained to do but in 30 years I've never had to put that training into practice. But protecting their passengers is something all bus drivers would do.

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'I'm glad I was able to help but I don't think I did anything special.'

Paul Bonham, commercial director for Norse which operates the service, said: 'Stuart is a very experienced driver and acted very professionally by stopping in a safe place and making sure passengers left the vehicle quickly and safely.

'Our drivers are trained for emergencies of this sort, and this incident showed the value of that training.

'After the fire in this vehicle the engine compartments of all our other double deckers have been checked, and all have been found to be in good order. We apologise to the passengers on the bus for what happened, and to other road users caught up by disruption.

'We may never find out the precise reason for the fire, except that it was engine failure of some sort, but we do know that this vehicle had been properly maintained.'

Norwich park and ride services are provided by Norfolk County Council and Tracy Jessop, assistant director travel and transport, said she was pleased that Norse had acted quickly to check all similar vehicles.

She added: 'I would also like to commend the driver, Stuart Jones, who dealt with a very difficult situation particularly well, remaining calm and taking care of his passengers. It is reassuring to all park and ride users that drivers are well trained and know exactly what to do when the unexpected happens.'

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