BLANCO COUNTY, Texas (KSAT/CNN) – From a hundred yards away, it was still a frightening sight to see: a burning bus shrouded in thick smoke.
About 40 kids, ages 12 to 17, were inside Thursday morning, on their way back to San Antonio, Texas, after attending a church youth camp, until they heard what sounded like a blown tire.
They pulled over to inspect the damage.
"We saw smoke coming up from the back of the bus," said Michelle Delgadillo, a chaperone.
Davione Milam, a passenger on the bus, said, “The white smoke started turning into black smoke, and then it caught on fire.”
The engine caught fire, but everyone got off the bus safely before the flames engulfed the vehicle.
Looking at the images the passengers took from a safe distance away brought back how many had felt.
"It was scary, seeing all the girls, like, crying and freaking out. It kind of made me freak out more,” said Abby Ellison, another passenger.
They sang songs of praise and gave thanks that everyone was safe and unhurt.
"That's the glory that God has given us. He's given us the strength," said passenger Ashley Fox.
Paramedics were called to the scene, but none of the children were seriously injured, and none were transported to a hospital.
"Just precautionarily for smoke inhalation, but it wasn't. Just a bit of fear," said Rick Godwin, the senior pastor of Summit Christian Center in San Antonio.
Godwin said it could have been a far different ending.
"I thank God for his protection for all the kids,” he said. “Everyone's home safe. Most of their belongings are safe."
Relieved mother Tamika Milam said it could have been a disaster.
“So, I'm very thankful that everyone’s OK,” she said. “And we can replace everything else."
The cause of the fire is under investigation.