EYE witnesses have described their shock at seeing a bus engulfed by flames within minutes of it catching on fire in a residential street last night. 

Emergency services were alerted to the fire on board the single deck Lambton Worm bus, in The Avenue, in Chester-le-Street, at about 11.30pm.

VIDEO: Billy Atkinson

 A crew from Durham fire service’s High Handenhold station were on scene minutes later and managed to extinguish the blaze within a short time, but not before the 34 service Go North East vehicle was badly damaged.

The driver and one passenger on board were unhurt.
Resident Billy Atkinson of The Avenue, said: “It was about 11.10pm and we had our windows wide open when we heard a bus pulled up at the bus stop outside.

“The bus driver got out. I thought it was a bit strange the bus still standing there instead of going on as it normally does. 

“When I looked again there was smoke coming from the bus and I got my camera to go outside. 

“There was a small flame at the back and in less than a minute the whole bus was in engulfed in flames.”
He added: “I immediately got my wife and daughter out of the house and waited for the fire brigade who got there within minutes. They extinguished the flames quickly and spent some time damping the bus down. 

“There were a lot of people who came out to look and the police closed off both sides of the road.”

Cars in the area also suffered damage from the heat of the fire.
Police and officials from the bus company were at the scene yesterday looking into the incident.

The Lambton Worm service operates from the company’s Chester-le-Street depot and is a local service operating around the town and neighbouring villages.

Kevin Carr, managing director of Go North East said: “I can confirm there was an incident on one of our vehicles on Thursday August 17.

“Due to an electrical failure, the saloon of a bus on our 34a service became filled with smoke.

“Alongside the driver, one passenger was on on-board the vehicle, however, neither were injured as a result of the incident, which happened at 23.10pm in Chester-le-Street.

“We immediately alerted the authorities via our service team and both the local police and fire brigade attended the scene.”
As is the norm for such an incident, the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (Vosa) has been informed. 

Mr Carr said: “We’ll have to await the outcome of the specialists examination, but it would appear to have been an electrical failure.”

A spokesman for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue service said firefighters using breathing equipment extinguished the fire using two hose reels.