Other districts offer loaner buses after fire at Puyallup School District garage

Fire-ravaged Puyallup school buses a grim sight

Close-up look at the buses that were destroyed or damaged by Wednesday's fire at the Puyallup School District maintenance garage.
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Close-up look at the buses that were destroyed or damaged by Wednesday's fire at the Puyallup School District maintenance garage.

After an explosive fire damaged 24 of the Puyallup School District’s buses Wednesday, other districts offered loaner buses to help transport students when school starts Sept. 6.

That means the district might not have to redesign bus routes as officials initially feared.

“We are pleased with the generous support of area school districts,” school district spokesman Brian Fox said Thursday.

He declined to list the districts providing buses because offers continue to come in.

Transportation directors were working to assess the capacity of the buses offered by more than 16 districts before deciding whether to redraw bus routes.

Wednesday’s two-alarm fire broke out at the district’s maintenance garage, 323 12th St. NW, about 2:20 p.m., startling neighbors with several explosions and sending up a black plume of smoke visible miles away.

The blaze destroyed a carport and irreparably damaged 24 buses parked nearby. About 60 or 70 buses were kept at the maintenance yard. The School District has 180 active buses, according to the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website.

Most, if not all, of the damaged buses were recently purchased. They ranged in price from $90,000 to $130,000 and will all have to be replaced, Fox said.

An estimate of damages has not been provided.

No one was hurt in the fire and no cause has yet been determined. Investigators said it could take up to two weeks to determine what started the blaze.

Firefighters monitored the scene overnight and quickly doused flames that ignited early Thursday.

Seventy people who were on site when the fire initially broke out were moved from the area and authorities evacuated homes and businesses between Second and Third avenues northwest and Ninth and 12th streets northwest. Thirty of those people were there for a first-aid certification course being held in a classroom near the shop area.

Parents are encouraged to check the district’s website, www.puyallup.k12.wa.us, early next week to see whether bus schedules or routes have been altered.

Fire ravages Puyallup bus barn

Firefighters battle flames Wednesday at the Puyallup School District bus barn. At least 26 buses were damaged in the blaze.

Joshua Bessex and Kenny Ocker
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