'˜We saw the flames and just panicked': Passengers on Portsmouth double-decker bus which caught alight speak of their shock

Passengers who were on-board a double-decker bus which caught fire last night have spoken about the incident.Â

Saturday, 25th August 2018, 5:15 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd September 2018, 12:15 pm
Picture: Mark Waldron

The Stagecoach bus was taking passengers from Victorious Festival up to the park-and-ride station at Lakeside North Harbour when flames were spotted coming from the back of the top deck.

Festival-goers quickly fled downstairs to safety, and the bus was stopped by the side of the M275 so people could be evacuated. 

Charlotte Pettley-Verrall, 19, was sat near the back of the top deck with her boyfriend Max Lown.

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Picture: Mark Waldron

She said: 'We heard this noise like the bus was on the hard shoulder, I turned around and said to Max it was like the wheel had fallen off.

'Then someone in the row behind shouted that the bus was on fire, we saw the flames and everyone just panicked. 

'Everyone bundled to the front of the bus, I was one of the first down the stairs. The bus driver and everyone downstairs didn't know what was going on.'

Charlotte, who had been to the festival for the first time, said she called 999 before getting picked up by a friend who took the pair to Lakeside.

She added: 'We didn't want to hang around, we thought the bus could have exploded. 

'It was the first bus after The Libertines had finished, it was lucky they didn't pile more people onto the bus.'

Also on the bus was Mark Waldron, editor of The News.

He said: '˜There was initial confusion and panic as those at the back of the bus rushed to the stairs while those at the front were unaware of the drama happening behind them.

'But once the cause was known, the bus pulled over and we all filed out to safety behind the crash barriers on the hard shoulder, It was quite a spectacle as the flames took hold but the firefighters were quickly on the scene and the fire was instantly out.

A Stagecoach spokesperson said: '˜The driver of one of our vehicles last night detected an engine fire and stopped the bus immediately.

'˜All passengers exited the vehicle safely and the emergency services were called.

'˜Safety is our absolute priority and we will carry out a full investigation into the cause of the incident.'