WAYNE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The wind slipped through the shattered windows of a badly burned Wayne County school bus and beat against its melted frame Friday afternoon.
Its stop sign was almost unrecognizable and the seat covers were burned off their metal frames.
Paula Taylor says the bus almost became a death trap for her three children.
"Our children could've been taken from us. They could've gone up in smoke with that bus," said Taylor through tears.
She says she was waiting at home for her children when she realized their bus was nearly to her house and it was on fire.
She says the bus driver, Debbie East, rushed to move her 6, 8 and 12 year old out of their seats.
Wayne County Board of Education officials say the fire was most likely sparked by a fuel or oil leak about 4 o'clock Thursday afternoon.
State transportation officials are working with the bus manufacturer to figure out what started the fire.
"Here on the pavement is where it was so hot it must've melted the pavement," Taylor said.
The thick smoke also turned a nearby tree black on Oley Taylor Road.
She says they tried fighting the fire with several fire extinguishers but it wasn't long until the seats where her children were sitting melted in the heat.
"It's still in the bottom of my stomach at the thought of what could've happened," said an emotional Taylor.
She says her children have had headaches and earaches and don't want to take another trip on the bus.
However, she says they are fine because the woman behind the wheel thought of the students before herself.
"There is no amount of words to possibly show how grateful we are. She is definitely a hero," Taylor said.
School officials say the bus caught fire during the last stop of the day.
The bus driver didn't want to talk.