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Good Samaritan Speaks Out After Stepping In To Help Kids Off Burning School Bus On Near West Side

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dramatic video shows fire sweeping through a school bus on the city's Near West Side Thursday morning.

Flames and thick smoke were seen shooting out of the windows of the Grand Prairie Transit school bus after the fire broke out just before 9 a.m. on 13th Street near Damen Avenue.

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross spoke to a Good Samaritan who helped get everyone off the bus. The man was walking out of a nearby church when he noticed the bus, and he said it was instinctual – he had to act.

"As I got closer, I saw the flames by the engine of the bus," said Kenny Patterson. "It was burning pretty hot. You could see smoke was past the trees in the sky it was up way past the building."

Patterson said he caught that glimpse of the bus beginning to burn after leaving his church.

The retired utility worker was simply happy to provide some utility in a time of crisis

"I ran around and told the bus driver to get off. The bus was on fire," Patterson said. "I asked him, was anyone on the bus; any kids? He said, 'Yeah.' So we went to the back and I helped two children on there."

Nearby Easterseals, 1939 W. 13th St., said it evacuated its building due to the smell of smoke and the possibility of an explosion.

Two Easterseals students, a driver, and another adult were on the bus at the time. The two middle school boys were later checked out and were fine.

"They had some sort of disability, both of them," Patterson said.

Ross asked Patterson what would have happened if he had not been around.

"God only knows," Patterson replied. "Like I say, He just put me in that spot to do what He wanted me to do. They were real grateful and thankful for what happened."

For years, Patterson felt a humble calling to volunteer at the nearby church. His calling on Thursday, however, involved asking a local business to dial 911 for help.

"Ran back into the daycare asked them to call 911," he said.

Patterson emphasized that he does not want to be called a hero.

"Just a servant of the Lord - that's it. Just glad he put me in the right place at the right time," Patterson said. "That was the main thing that everyone got off the bus OK; wasn't problems. They can get another bus, so everything is good."

Mechanical issues are believed to have started the fire.

We reached out to the bus company to find out what went wrong. They told us they had no comment.



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