PEOPLE on a bus that suddenly exploded yesterday escaped unharmed from a blaze that completely destroyed the vehicle.

The Stagecoach service exploded twice and caught fire during the afternoon heat on the junction of Fleming Way and Spring Gardens.

At around 4.40pm fire appliances were called to the blaze, which had engulfed the body of the vehicle as it entered the junction.

Glenn Curtis, of Faringdon Road, was approaching the junction when he heard explosions and saw smoke from the fire filling the air.

“It exploded twice,” he said. “We were in our car going home when we saw a huge plume of black smoke rising up through the trees and over Jury’s Inn.

“We came through the trees and saw all this thick, black smoke, so we could tell it was bad. When we got closer we could see flames coming out of the back by the tank.”

Glenn said there had only been a driver and one passenger on the bus, who had been lucky to escape with their lives.

“A couple had been waiting at the bus stop down the road to get on that bus, because it was the one to Oxford,” he added. “They were waiting with their kids in pushchairs. They said there were only two people on the bus, the driver and one lady sitting at the back. The lady jumped out of the back when she realised, and a van driver who had been going past jumped out of his van and pulled the bus driver out.

“The way it went up, if there were a lot of people on there they would not have been able to get off.”

Claire Parker, Glenn’s partner, added: “It is just lucky that was not one of the school buses.

“All the windows are blown out, and the fire has burnt out the entire bus. This could have been a tragedy.”

Ron Stone, 83, of Medgbury Road, said: “I heard two loud explosions from in my house. The first one was very loud, and the second one came soon after. They must have only been a minute or two apart.

“I looked out of my lounge window and could see black smoke rising into the sky.”

The rear of the bus was blown away and was spilling fluid out into the street. All the windows were smashed where firefighters had attempted to tackle the flames.

It took no longer than half an hour for the flames to be extinguished, but road repairs are likely after the damage done to the surface. Traffic was diverted along Spring Gardens and other side streets, causing some gridlock around Fleming Way.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said: “Two crews, including one from Calne which was on standby at Drove Fire station, attended Fleming Way near to Halfords at around 4.40pm to reports of a bus well alight.

“The bus was running at the time but everyone on board made it off uninjured.

“The cause is likely to be a mechanical fault.”

At the time of going to print, no one from Stagecoach was available to comment.