Band students from New Bridge Middle School were on their way back from a band competition, Sunday morning, when one of their charter buses caught on fire.
Students were able to get off the bus before it went up in flames at 2:00 a.m according to Suzie Ulbrich, Onslow County Schools spokeswoman.
The students were traveling back to Jacksonville from Busch Gardens following a music competition. The bus driver pulled over along Hwy 258 in Richlands, near Gregory Fork Road, when it became clear the bus was having mechanical issues.
13-year-old Dylan Greene said he had just gotten off another bus when he saw the bus his peers had been on catch up in flames.
"It kept getting bigger and bigger and then the back, it started burning up and the glass started shattering out of it," Greene said.
Greene said his friend Austin Hoopes was on the bus that caught fire.
"The bus driver told us to get out as soon as we can. We had no idea what was going on," Hoopes said.
Hoopes said the bus driver helped get everyone off of the bus.
"I was in the front luckily but the people in the back were pretty traumatized they got out and they were pretty shocked," Hoopes said.
Chaperones and teachers moved all the students a safe distance away from the bus. Shortly after the bus went up in flames. No students suffered any injuries. Their trophies were lost in the fire.
The Highway Patrol said the cause of the fire was a mechanical malfunction near the engine room in the back of the bus. Officials said a fire marshal will most likely investigate this incident further.
School officials say parents who are signed up for the schools "Remind 101" notification system were immediately notified of the situation and given updates by band director Bryant Copeland. An Onlsow County Schools activity bus was dispatched to pick up the displaced students.
Three other charter buses with choir and orchestra students were traveling in the caravan, they were not affected.