Some Blair High School students just wanted to ride together to the prom Saturday night. But the bus they rented never made it. And they are glad they never got on the bus in the first place.
Once they arrived at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha Saturday night, Blair High School prom wasn't much different than most. But it's how they got there, or were supposed to get there, that made this a night to remember.
"When you're coming from the highway, you couldn't see any of the houses," said Blair senior Brad Gentzler. "You could just see the smoke all the way up in the air. You couldn't see a single thing. You couldn't even see the bus from over on the highway."
That burning bus was the VIP Limousine bus that 35 Blair High School students had planned to ride to the prom dance in Omaha. The group had been waiting for the bus at Arbor Park School a few blocks away when they heard about the fire.
"We heard that there was a bus on fire over here at Deerfield [Elementary School]. And we all started joking thinking that it was ours," said senior Dylan Rogers. "And then found out it actually was ours."
The bus driver had missed the turn to Arbor Park School and went to Deerfield Elementary instead. That's where the bus caught fire.
Sunday afternoon, the marks left behind by the fire are still easy to see on the pavement at the school.
The students who were supposed to ride on the bus can see how a missed turn kept them out of harms way.
"At first we were all kind of bummed just because, you know, we were looking forward to going on the bus and all," said senior Kole Krueger. "But as time went by, we realized that if we were on that bus, people could have gotten hurt."
"It was definitely a miracle, I would say," senior Brook Stamper said. "Because we easily could have been on it when it went up in flames. And that wouldn't have been a senior year to remember."
The students had to drive their own vehicles to the prom dance in Omaha.
The bus driver was not injured. Blair Fire Chief Kent Nicholson said, before the fire broke out in the bus, the driver heard a loud noise come from the rear end of the bus. When he stopped and got out he saw smoke coming from the rear axle area of the bus.