Around 3:30 Sunday morning in Fresno, a large fire destroyed more than a dozen school buses. The buses are owned and operated by the company First Student, which serves special needs children within the Fresno Unified School District.
Investigators say there was no sign of someone breaking in to the facility in the area of Jensen and Highway 99, so they are puzzled as to how this fire started. They are not ruling out the chance it was intentionally set.
“Arson is always a possibility with these types of fires,” said Keola Park of the Fresno Fire Dept.
A total of 22 buses caught fire and 15 are a complete loss. The estimated damage is more than a million dollars.
Dozens of firefighters used multiple engines to get things under control. They shot foam from ladders high above the scene. Finally after 40 minutes, the blaze was extinguished.
Rosario Galletos is a bus driver who showed up to the yard after hearing about the fire from a co-worker.
“I'm hoping it doesn't affect my route because I really need to get back to work,” said Rosario Galletos, a bus driver.
A spokesperson for First Student says this fire wiped out about 10% of its fleet at this location. Despite that, there should only be minimal impact to the special needs children of Fresno Unified who rely on these buses to get to and from school.
“We do keep a number of reserve buses at each location in the event buses might need maintenance or have other issues, so I anticipate we'll be able to travel as normal tomorrow,” said Maureen Richmond, spokesperson for First Student.
Fresno Unified does not return from its winter break until Monday, January 14th.