BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. - A veteran school bus driver is being credited with some quick-thinking that may have saved the lives of his passengers.
Alfred Lewis, 59, was transporting four special needs students to school Thursday morning when smoke began entering the cab in Brooklyn Park.
Within minutes of pulling off to the side of the road, the bus was fully engulfed.
Lewis is credited for his bravery and quick-thinking because two of the students were in wheelchairs, unable to get themselves out of the bus that was quickly filling up with thick, black smoke.
The small school bus carrying four special needs students was headed to Elm Creek Elementary in Maple Grove. Suddenly, Lewis smelled smoke and noticed it coming out of the heater. That's when he pulled over.
Lewis knew he had to act quickly because two of the four students were in wheelchairs.
Dashcam video from a Brooklyn Park police squad car captured smoke and fire billowing out of the school bus just as the kids were escorted away.
The bus company, First Student out of Ohio, says all its drivers are trained for such emergencies. Lewis has been with First Student for six years, and they called him "highly regarded and a very good driver."
The four students and their parents will attest to that.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but there's good evidence, based on what Lewis observed, that it indeed may have been a faulty heater.
Lewis attempted to put the fire out, but not until all the passengers were off the bus. They carry small fire extinguishers, and the first officer on the scene also used one on the fire, but it was too intense to extinguish until firefighters arrived.