WALNUT CREEK (KCBS)— A Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy is being hailed as a hero for responding to a weekend bus fire on the side of the freeway in Walnut Creek that was far more dangerous than previously believed.

Contra Costa Sheriff’s Deputy Anthony Coniglio spotted the bus on the shoulder of Interstate 680. A fire had ignited in the charter bus’ wheel well. The Arizona teenagers on board were headed to a sign language event.

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“The flames had started coming up the side of the bus. You could see them from the passenger compartment windows and the smoke had already started entering the bus at that point,” Coniglio said.

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He said the heat was so intense that windows were breaking. He rescued many of the teens, helping them get out to safely.

“He did it in a way that was swift and he made decisive action. He insured everyone on scene was safe and ultimately I believe everyone went home that day because of his actions,” said Capt. Dan Hoffman, Coniglio’s patrol division commander.

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As many as seven people were treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.