PASSENGERS fled down the hard shoulder of the M62 after their coach burst into a massive fireball.
The Megabus service travelling to Newcastle went up in flames near to Rastrick just after 1pm yesterday.Related content
Thankfully, all 47 passengers and the driver escaped from the vehicle before the fire took hold.
Police closed the eastbound carriageway of the M62 to allow emergency services to drive the wrong way up to the fire.
But the vehicle could not be saved and dozens of passengers' bags and belongings were destroyed.
Smoke could be seen for miles as the 10-year-old vehicle was completely torched.
Watch Commander Mick Pollard, from Elland Fire Station, said they believed the fire had begun in the engine compartment underneath the passengers seats.
And he said the fire had been so intense they had been forced to shuttle water back and forth from a hydrant on Armytage Road at Brighouse.
"We had to use 10 tanks of water," he said.
"It took us 45 minutes to bring it under control.
"Three pumps were there and we used a dual approach with firefighters using jets from each side."
The eastbound motorway was closed between junction 24 (Ainley Top) and junction 25 (Brighouse), causing a massive queue past Huddersfield and back over the Pennines.
Traffic also ground to a halt on the westbound side as motorists slowed to view the drama.
Highways Agency officials said the pall of smoke was so bad it had blotted out the view from all of their CCTV cameras.
A spokeswoman said the stranded passengers had been transported by police and the Highways Agency to Hartshead Moor services where Megabus arranged an alternative vehicle for them.
A recovery crew from the national coach company arrived on the scene at about 3pm and the motorway was fully re-opened just before 4pm.
A megabus.com spokesman said: "We can confirm that a service travelling from Portsmouth to Newcastle was affected by a fire around 1pm today.
"All passengers were safely evacuated from the single-decker coach and no passengers are reported to have been injured.
"The driver immediately contacted the fire service who attended the scene.
"A replacement coach has been sent to the location to take passengers to their destination.
"Safety is our absolute priority and we have launched an investigation."Related content
In a separate incident drivers faced long hold-ups on the M62 after a crash near Chain Bar.
A lorry and three cars were involved in the incident on the eastbound carriageway between junction 26 at Chain Bar and junction 27 at Gildersome at 10.15am yesterday.
No-one was seriously injured but a woman driver of a Toyota Yaris was treated for minor injuries.
The inside lane remained closed until 11.55am and drivers faced six-mile queues back to junction 24 at Ainley Top, with delays of up to 40 minutes.
THE blaze and crash was yet another Friday afternoon drama on the disaster-prone M62.
All the following happened on the M62 in West Yorkshire on Fridays in 2013.
On April 26, a minibus crash near Pontefract claimed the life of 18-year-old Beth Jones.
On May 17, a tanker crash at junction 26 caused massive delays.
On March 29, Good Friday, a 90-year-old woman was killed in a smash at junction 25, Brighouse.
On March 1, a lorry crashed through the central reservation at Scammonden and on Friday, January 25 a three-car crash at Hartshead caused long jams.