A man has described how he saw a school bus driving down a hill “on fire as children screamed”.

Fifty-five youngsters aged nine and ten escaped from the dramatic blaze on board the double-decker as it travelled along the A29 yesterday (Friday, January 25) .

The children, in Year Five at Storrington First School in Spierbridge Road, were on a school trip when the fire broke out accidentally in the upper rear of the bus.

The pupils, accompanied by three teachers, two first aid teaching assistants and six parent helpers, were heading to Beaulieu Motor Museum in Hampshire.

Three children had to be taken to Worthing Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation as flames engulfed the bus.  they had been discharged.

Adrian Goth, 23, who works in the White Ways Café in Bury Hill, near Arundel, where the bus rolled to a halt, said: “I saw the coach coming down the hill on fire. It was pretty horrendous.

“The children were all screaming and shouting.

“The kids were running towards the café. We gave them hot chocolate and comforted them.

“It was like a film. It was awful.

“There were flames pouring out the coach.”

The children were sent home following the drama at 7.40am.

Headteacher Garry Smart said “I am very grateful for the superb response to the situation by the emergency services and staff.

“The children have been safely returned back to school and have been collected by their families.”

Sergeant Alan Spicer, from Sussex Police, said: “I would like to praise the teachers and children from Storrington First School for the way they conducted themselves during this incident.

“They remained calm throughout and the children listened to the direction of the teachers, who did a fantastic job.”

See the latest news headlines from The Argus:

More news from The Argus

Follow @brightonargus

The Argus: Daily Echo on Facebook - facebook.com/southerndailyecho Like us on Facebook

The Argus: Google+ Add us to your circles on Google+