School bus driver hailed as 'true hero' for saving 56 students from vehicle before it burst into flames

Teresa Stroble evacuated the children in 'less than a minute'

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The Independent US

A school bus driver has been hailed a "true hero" for saving 56 pupils shortly before her vehicle burst into flames.

Teresa Stroble heard two young pupils shouting about smoke and immediately pulled over into a car wash parking lot in Duncan, South Carolina.

Moments before it caught fire she then ushered the teens away from the vehicle. They were evacuated in less than a minute. 

"I was driving and saw a large black cloud ahead of me," an eywitness told CBS News. "As I got closer I saw the bus on fire in the car wash parking lot. The heat was so intense I could feel it from inside my truck."

School superintendent Scott Turner told US news channel WSPA: "We are so proud of our bus driver. “She did exactly what she was trained to do. She was calm. She kept the students calm. She made sure they were safe. They were her first priority. She’s our hero today."

All 56 children were off the bus in "under a minute", he added on Twitter.

The school district said in a statement on its Facebook page: "We are so thankful for the quick action of the Duncan Fire Department in putting the fire out, and all district administrators who responded and helped with what could have been a very tragic situation.

"Teresa Stroble, a seven-year veteran driver and teacher assistant for our district, did exactly as she was trained and quickly and calmly evacuated all 56 students from the bus, and got them to a safe location. She is a true hero."

Officials from the South Carolina Department of Education were working with local fire officials to determine the cause of the blaze.

Duncan Fire Chief Barry Frost told WSPA they are looking in the passenger area of the bus where there is heater mounted under a seat.