Loaner school buses ready to roll for Puyallup kids on Tuesday

More than a dozen school buses are on loan to the Puyallup School District to temporarily replace those destroyed by fire.

Twenty Puyallup buses were destroyed in an Aug. 24 blaze at the district’s maintenance facility in downtown Puyallup.

School districts from around the state have delivered 14 buses to Puyallup. Spokesman Brian Fox said the district fleet includes spare vehicles that are used when buses are in the shop for maintenance. So the 14 loaners will cover bus routes when school starts Tuesday, and allow for spares, if necessary.

Loaning districts include Hood Canal, Kent, North Thurston, Northshore, Oak Harbor, Peninsula, Sedro-Woolley and Snoqualmie Valley.

Many more districts offered to loan buses to Puyallup, Fox said. But Puyallup needed large buses to serve existing routes and stops. The 14 on loan seat up to 84 passengers.

Although bus routes will remain the same for Puyallup students, loaned buses will not be labeled with the Puyallup School District’s name. The district transportation department is sending email messages to affected families to tell them which district name they will see on the side of their student’s bus.

Fox said the district has not yet learned the dollar amount of damage done by the fire. He said arson has been ruled out as a cause, but that investigators were still working to figure out what set off the fire.

Also lost in the fire was the radio communications system used by bus dispatchers. Repairs on that system should be complete this week.

“We have been amazed by the response from the Puyallup community and beyond,” district operations officer Mario Casello said in a news release. “The students in Puyallup are fortunate to have such a caring community.”

Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635, @DebbieCafazzo