AN investigation has been launched by transport bosses after a bus was engulfed in flames on a main route through Bolton.

Two passengers and the driver of the Diamond bus were forced to flee the vehicle after it burst into flames on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters and police rushed to the scene in Chorley New Road close to the junction with Devonshire Road just after 4.20pm.

Thomas Calderbank, operations manager for Diamond Bus North West, said: “The bus involved has now been recovered to our depot in Bolton, and we have launched a full investigation into the cause of the fire on Saturday."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigates accidents, injuries and dangerous occurrences in the workplace, could also be asked to look into the incident.

It is believed that the bus was operating as part of the 575 service to Horwich.

Subsequent 575 buses were diverted along Chorley Old Road as emergency services worked at the scene which had closed the busy road.

Ben Grimes saw the fire after hearing a bang from his home on Albert Road.

He said: “I was sat in my flat and heard a loud bang which I thought was a firework going off.

“Around 5 mins later I got up to make a brew and saw all of the black smoke.

“I walked down to Chorley New Road and saw [fire crews] tackling the pretty large blaze.”

Mr Grimes took his first photo of the blaze at 4.32pm, and the fire was extinguished by 4.49pm.

A spokesman from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called at 4.22pm on Saturday 4 January to reports of a fire affecting a single decker bus on Chorley New Road in Bolton.

“One fire engine from Bolton North station attended the incident ­— the driver of the bus and two passengers were safely clear of the fire upon our arrival.

“Firefighters swiftly extinguished the flames using breathing apparatus and two jets. The crew was on the scene for just over two hours.

“We would like to thank colleagues from Greater Manchester Police who assisted with road traffic management and helped us quickly and efficiently handle the incident.”

Chorley New Road reopened four hours after the blaze, following a clean-up operation.