(WSVN) - Third grader Levi Kowing was heading home from school Wednesday afternoon when smoke started to fill his bus.

“At first you could smell it, and then it was going further into the back of the bus,” said Kowing.

Kowing said his school bus driver, Ms. Janet, quickly pulled over and got him and his classmates out to saftey.

“And at one point I talked to my friend Dylan, and he was starting to cry, so I tried to comfort him,” he said.

Their principal, who was minutes away at the school, rushed to the rescue.

“It was scary,” said Brian Degonzague, principal of Image Schools at West Melbourne.

He jumped in his car after Ms. Janet called to say something was wrong.

As he was standing with the group of children, they all saw the bus go up in flames.

“It was terrifying to think minutes earlier they were on this bus,” he said. “She prioritized the kids’ safety and her gut reaction to immediately get them off the bus was incredible and kept the scenario from turning out differently.”

Kowing said he is going to give Ms. Janet a big thank you when he sees her again.

“If she didn’t get us out in time and she didn’t notice, the bus would catch on fire and we would be trapped,” Kowing said.

Kowing’s mother felt grateful as she thought about what could have happened if it weren’t for Ms. Janet’s quick actions.

“Thankful they’re still here and I still get to love my children,” said Kristen Kowing. “I couldn’t repay her enough. Just, thank you.”

The entire school is applauding Ms. Janet’s heroic efforts.

“You think of all of our students who were on that bus, and she is a hero,” said Jessica Hinchman, an employee at the school. “She saved our kids.”

Ms. Janet said shes loves the students and saving them wasn’t even a second thought.

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