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ST. LOUIS – Middle school students in suburban St. Louis escaped injury after a bus caught fire on Wednesday, authorities said.

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The bus went up in smoke as Brittany Woods Middle School students were heading home to University City, KMOV-TV reported.

“It was kind of scary because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” eighth-grader Jaidyn Conners told the television station. “I had to hurry up and get off the bus.”

University City Fire Department Battalion Chief Jon Bollinger told KMOV that the flames were intense

“(It) could have been a house fire based on how much smoke produced from that fire alone, Bollinger told the television station.

Bollinger said it took two crews to put out the blaze. He told the television station he believed the fire started in the vehicle’s engine compartment and reached the cab.

Bollinger credited the bus driver for responding quickly and making sure the students exited the vehicle safely.

“His first action was to stop what he was doing and get everybody to safety and it makes our job that much easier,” Bollinger told KMOV.

In a statement, the School District of University City said it was working with its bus service provider, Missouri Central, to investigate the cause of the fire.

“Student safety should never be in jeopardy,” the statement said. “District officials responded to the scene when a mechanical issue causing a fire was reported on the bus.

“A thorough investigation is underway in collaboration with the bus service provider, Missouri Central, and other appropriate parties. … This is a very unfortunate incident as the district continues to prioritize the safety and well-being of students.”

District officials said a replacement bus took the remaining five students home.