Kids riding home from school escaped just in time Tuesday as a school bus went up in flames in Saskatoon.

The driver ushered the students off the bus moments before the fire on Macdermid Crescent.

“I was like, ‘What was happening?’” nine-year-old student Faith Walker said. “There was smoke everywhere, and the bus was on fire.”

Walker said the students started smelling smoke just before the bus stopped at her grandparents’ house. The bus caught fire shortly after she exited the bus and the driver ushered the other students out.

The flames spread throughout the bus in a matter of minutes.

“They were like campfire flames, but way bigger,” Walker said. “It gave me a stomach ache. It was my first time experiencing fire, so I didn’t know what was going on.”

Fire crews were called to the scene just after 4 p.m. The bus was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

All four kids on the bus were uninjured and taken home by a second bus sent to the scene, the fire department said in a media release. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but firefighters say flames began in the engine.

Walker’s mother, Kristina Hughes, said the kids were taken inside her parents’ house as firefighters tackled the blaze.

“From what I understand from my parents, the bus pulled up, smoke started billowing and the bus driver got everybody off safely and into the house and ushered into the basement,” Hughes said.

Hughes was driving to pick up her daughter from the home when her mom phoned and told her the bus was on fire. She didn’t realize the extent of the damage until she arrived at the scene.

“When I pulled on to the block and the whole thing was up in flames, my first thought was like, ‘When did they got off the bus? Is everyone OK?’ And then I thought, ‘Wow, what could have happened if that was on the freeway and not parked in front of my parents’ house?’” Hughes said.

“It’s completely toast. It’s scary.”

She’s thankful the bus driver stayed calm.

“I just want to thank… the bus driver for getting them off safely and being professional and keeping his head on straight,” she said.

--- based on a report by Angelina Irinici