|Yuba CIty Unified Bus Yard||1521 Stewart Road, Yuba City CA|
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Fire destroys Yuba City bus garage
Flames consume Yuba City Unified School District vehicles
Fire destroyed the Yuba City Unified School District's bus maintenance garage south of Yuba City on Friday, forcing officials to make quick plans to keep buses on the road.
All equipment and tools used to maintain the fleet were destroyed in the fire at 1512 Stewart Road, west of Highway 99. Baldev Johal, deputy superintendent of business services, estimated damage will be at least $1 million.
No one was injured.
"The devastation is complete," said Johal, surveying the smoking ruins.
Superintendent Nancy Aaberg said bus service would not be disrupted.
Two 84-passenger buses, a 24-passenger special education bus, a maintenance truck and at least two employee vehicles parked next to the building were lost.
Don Sparlin, a maintenance worker, said the fire started inside a bus where welding work was being done. Workers tried to extinguish the fire, but it quickly spread, possibly fed by foam in the bus seats, he said.
"By the time we were exiting, things started exploding," Sparlin said, referring to tanks of oil and transmission fluid.
Sparlin estimated part of the roof fell in about eight minutes after the fire started.
The Yuba City Fire Department received a call at 10:38 a.m. and found the building already engulfed. The first thing firefighters did was protect an approximately 3,000-gallon diesel fuel tank on the west side of the building from exploding, said interim Fire Chief Pete Daley.
The fire was brought under control in less than an hour, even though the area is outside the Yuba City limits and lacks water service, said Daley. The Sutter County and Linda fire departments sent water tenders, he said, and Marysville fire also assisted.
There were 28 firefighters and two investigators at the scene, Daley said.
The fire displaced 21 maintenance and facility employees and cut electricity to all buildings and fuel pumps. Buses will be refueled at a Highway 99 truck stop until power is restored, said Aaberg.
The district information technology department was setting up a temporary dispatch center Friday afternoon at the district's main office on Palora Avenue, she said.
Officials will use the three-day weekend — Monday is Presidents Day — to find a temporary repair facility, she said.
"We have to figure out a recovery strategy. We need literally everything" to restore the maintenance operation, Johal said.
"There were no injuries. That's the most important thing," Daley said.
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Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young at 749-4710 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.