PASSENGERS were evacuated after a double-decker bus burst into flames as heavy snow fell over the weekend.

The Go North-East service was carrying six people when the suspected engine fire broke out on A692 at Dipton, near Stanley, in County Durham, early on Saturday afternoon.

Tom Dodds, stakeholder manager at Go North East, said: "Early on Saturday afternoon, during atrocious weather conditions, we ran extra buses to try to get people home.

“This bus was carrying six passengers when it caught fire.

“Everyone including our driver was safely evacuated. The bus was completely destroyed.”

Elsewhere in the area, buses struggled to make their journeys as heavy snowfall made roads impassable.

Mr Dodds said: “As the weather deteriorated, our services kept to the main roads.

“At teatime, we provided an extra bus from Metrocentre to Stanley and Burnopfield to help get stranded people home.

“Saturday's exceptional weather stretched us all and I'd like to thank our customers for their patience and our drivers and control room staff for the tremendous effort they all put in."

Two fire engines from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service attended to deal with the bus fire.

A spokesman said: “The bus fire at Dipton is being treated as an accidental engine fire. When firefighters arrived both decks of the bus were engulfed in flames. People had been evacuated from the bus beforehand uninjured.”