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School Bus Catches Fire Near Penn Station

By DNAinfo Staff on November 22, 2011 9:16am  | Updated on November 22, 2011 10:06am

By Mathew Katz and Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo Staff

MIDTOWN — A group of students escaped a school bus that caught fire on Seventh Avenue near Penn Station Tuesday morning, authorities and witnesses said.

Fire crews responded to the blaze, outside 460 Seventh Ave. near West 35th Street, after getting reports of heavy smoke in the area about 8:30 a.m., the FDNY said.

A witness who was working across the street at the time saw bus riders getting off the bus before flames engulfed the vehicle.

"All the kids got off before the smoke came, and the kids are all OK," said Esperanza Medina, who works at the Conway clothing store on Seventh Avenue and watched the incident unfold.

No one was injured in the blaze, fire officials said. The Department of Education said there were eight students on the bus.

Another witness who was at a nearby deli said the students and driver got off the bus just in time.

“It was like a movie," said Margio Alonso, 42, who is visiting from Rome. "There was a smoke smell, and then the students got off and the driver got off — and then boom.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said that the bus broke and down and all the students were transferred to another vehicle before the smoke and flames began.

She explained that the driver tried to restart the bus and bring it in for repairs before it caught fire.

The incident is under investigation, the DOE added.