A DRAMATIC coach blaze caused traffic chaos for motorists.
The blaze engulfed the coach on the A55 near Halkyn at around 3.30pm yesterday leading to the closure of the westbound carriageway during rush-hour.
Passengers were forced to flee and witnesses say it was lucky no one was hurt.
The road partially reopened at 4.45pm but one lane remained closed to allow for the recovery of the vehicle.
It was close to 7pm before the incident had been cleared and traffic was running freely on both westbound lanes.
Staff at the nearby Little Chef witnessed the blaze and went to help passengers.
Little Chef cook Mathew Pope, 21, from Trefnant, said: “We noticed the coach on the slip road, there was thick smoke billowing and flames coming from the back.
“Passengers got out very calmly, they appeared to be pensioners. They then started to try to get their luggage.
“It was a dangerous situation so myself and some colleagues went out to tell them to get clear.”
Little Chef supervisor Ben Jones, 24, from Holywell, said the blazing coach was around 40 metres away from the restaurant.
“The flames took around five minutes to go through the entire vehicle. It was a ruin. I don’t think there are any injuries. I think the people are lucky no one was hurt.
“I could hear popping sounds, which was probably the windows breaking.”
The passengers went onto a verge after evacuating from the coach, alternative transport was arranged for them and staff from the Little Chef and the nearby Travelodge supplied them with bottles of water.
Former Wrexham FC midfield star Gareth Owen, who now works for the Welsh Football Trust, was driving towards Deeside when he saw the fire.
“It was very dramatic, certainly not the sort of thing you see every day. When I was there traffic was starting to build up and the fire engines had just arrived.
The flames were high and the smoke was really thick,” he said.
A North Wales Fire Service and Rescue Service spokesman said crews from Holywell, St Asaph and Deeside attended the scene.