Track and field team safely flees Newark school bus fire

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Mallory Hoff has the story from Newark. (WABC)

It was a very close call for several high school athletes in New Jersey, who were forced to escape their school bus when it suddenly burst into flames.

Moments before the fire, 32 students, an assistant coach, and a bus driver were on board, getting ready to make their way to a morning track and field meet.

The Shabazz High School Bulldogs noticed their coach Damon Harrison motioning to them from outside the bus. He got their attention, and they did what he has trained his team to do - run fast.

"I started beeping my horn to try to get the kids' attention, and I got out of the car, and started rushing them off," said Harrison, "as I get the kids out, you start to see the fire go up the sides of the bus...the moment the kids were off."

After this happened, Coach Harrison asked the students what they wanted to do. The students told him they still wanted to run the meet in Essex County. Another school bus came to pick them up, and that's exactly what they did.

"I was just glad that we were all off the bus," said one student.

Ultimately, the fire destroyed their uniforms and cleats, but could not burn out their team spirit. The students ended up wearing what they had on, and shared cleats during the meet.

It is still unclear how the fire started, but the students told Eyewitness News that the bus driver stayed on the bus until every student was out.

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