By Lucas Sullivan of Springfield News-Sun
Carol Joseph could see the falling debris and the smoke through the door of the East Liberty Street house she was pounding on.
There was no answer as the driver of a Springfield City Schools bus looked back to see the bus idling in the middle of the road on March 11, 2008.
"It was in the middle of the road and people just started to go around it," Joseph said. "But this house was on fire."
Joseph kept pounding and yelling.
Suddenly, a man emerged at about 7:55 a.m. still shaking off the sleep.
Then out came a woman as debris continued to fall from the second floor turned apartment.
Luckily, no one was up there.
If it wasn't for Joseph jumping out of her empty bus and pounding on the door, fire officials said things could have turned out much worse for the people inside.
"(Joseph) gets a big thank you from me and should be acknowledged by the community for stepping in to help those people," said Nick Heimlich, assistant city fire chief. "It's a selfless act and one that is needed in a time like that."
But Joseph, a city schools bus driver for five years, doesn't want recognition for her actions.
"I would hope anyone would do that if they saw smoke coming from a house," she said. "But I left (that day) before the TV crews pulled up. I just wanted to make sure everyone was out of the house."
The house at 24 E. Liberty St. was not destroyed and the people Joseph rescued have since relocated.
Heimlich said his investigation has determined the fire was arson that started on the second floor.
He did not release the names of the people involved and is awaiting analysis of the materials officials think were used to start the fire.
Joseph said it makes no difference to her if the fire was set intentionally or not. "I just acted on instinct. Then I got back in my bus and drove off."