A White County school bus carrying students from Cassville Elementary School went up in flames Monday afternoon.
Director of White County Schools Sandra Crouch said the driver noticed the engine was smoking before quickly pulling over and getting the students off of the bus.
Crouch said the children were returning from a field trip at the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro when the fire happened around 2 p.m. on Highway 96, in Auburntown, about 25 miles northeast of Murfreesboro.
Fire extinguishers were used in an effort to put out the blaze but the flames eventually engulfed the bus.
SLIDESHOW: School bus goes up in flames
Another bus responded to pick up the children and the students returned to school just before 4 p.m.
“It was scary,” first grade student Hannah Sutton said. “It was burning and I was scared.”
Cassville Elementary Principal Jason Wyatt told News 2 the students were never in danger. He credits the bus driver and teachers on-board for being vigilant.
“The students were evacuated from the bus very quickly,” Wyatt said.
Auburntown resident Homer Powell watched as the students, teachers, chaperones and driver evacuated the bus.
He said the students were excited about all the commotion, but they did as they were told.
"They were hollering and carrying on but they were just filing out of the bus in a very disciplined way,” Powell said. “I was impressed."
Forty-four students and four adults were on-board the bus at the time.
No injuries were reported and parents were immediately contacted.
“[I was] a little nervous, but they are really good here. They take care of the kids. I don't think we had much to worry about,” mother Susan Hutton said.
The cause of the fire remains unknown and is under investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
News 2 checked and found out the bus was last inspected July 10, 2013, just before the start of the school year.
There were no known problems with the bus and it has had a regular route since the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
The driver, Charles Stanfield, 63, has been driving a school bus in White County for a year. He previously worked as a truck driver.
School leaders have praised him for doing everything right.
"We know our training works. Thank God nobody got hurt," Transportation Director David Vidrine said.
There was a surveillance camera on the school bus. The video could not be retrieved because it was destroyed in the fire.
The bus is considered a total loss.
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