MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Several dozen elementary school students in Sherburne County are safe after the bus they were on burst into flames Tuesday.

The driver smelled smoke moments before the fire. He pulled the bus over and got the kids off quickly.

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The students were on their way home from Zimmerman and Westwood elementary schools. Even though the kids are OK, they are dealing with some inconvenient losses.

Gray Lacy was going to hang the ornament he spent half a day making at school on his family’s tree.

“I was gonna give the ornament to my mom,” Lacy said.

It was just one of a list of things he and his bus mates lost on Tuesday.

“All the sudden the bus stopped, and then there was smoke everywhere,” he said. “So I put my coat over my mouth because I knew it was bad to breath in smoke.”

After the engine started smoking, Lacy’s bus driver pulled over and quickly evacuated the students.

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“He said, ‘Get off the bus because the engine blew, and leave all your stuff,'” Lacy said.

Moments later, the bus was engulfed in flames. Charlie Blesener with Elk River Area School District says it was a close call.

“We’re thankful that nobody was injured, and obviously it’s a little easier to replace a backpack than it is a child,” Blesener said.

The district already gave Lacy a replacement for his backpack, and volunteers are replacing all the books and planners of his fellow students.

They will also be able to re-create the homemade gifts that were lost in the fire.

They are losses that Lacy is dealing with just fine, after a ride that could have taken so much more.

The bus company, Vision, says they are proud of how the driver calmly handled the situation.

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As for what happened, a team from the bus manufacturer is flying in next week to inspect the bus.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield