A quick-thinking bus driver in South Carolina has been hailed a hero after saving more than 50 children from a school bus that caught fire early Tuesday, officials said.
Teresa Stroble was driving 56 students to their respective schools in Spartanburg when two children in the back of the bus noticed some smoke, officials and witnesses said.
Stroble was able to park, help the students off and guide them to safety as flames spread. The fire eventually consumed the bus.
“God bless her," Spartanburg County School District 5 Superintendent Scott Turner said on Twitter. "So grateful for her quick action."
Those who witnessed the blaze were stunned no one was injured as a result of the devastating blaze.
“The heat was so intense, you could feel the heat from across the street,” said resident David Porter, 54, who was getting ready for work when he heard children screaming.
“My wife, she got up and went into the side room and she started hollering for me to come,” Porter said. “I ran out of the house and I saw this school bus in flames. There was such a towering inferno; there was no way to get to it.”
Porter, who owns shipping container business DP Containers, said at first he thought no one survived the fire.
“I thought they all burned up. It was a sickening feeling — I thought they were dead,” he said. “The heat was so intense; it blew out all the windows on the school bus.”
But his shock turned to awe as he realized everyone made it out alive.
“It was like, ‘this is unbelievable.’ I don’t know how she did it,” he said of Stroble. “To be able to remain calm enough... She got 56 kids off a bus in a matter of seconds. And to get them away from the bus, down to the next block, was truly amazing.”
Stroble also serves as a teaching assistant for the district.
Firefighters who quickly arrived on the scene put out the fire and the children were placed on another bus to be brought to their schools.
Authorities are investigating what caused the fire.