Buses destroyed in fire at Kokomo city garage

Photo credit: Chris Biehn via Twitter
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A fire at Kokomo's Central Garage has reportedly destroyed several city buses.

Residents heard explosions when the fire erupted around 5:00 pm on Millbrook Lane.

While the fire did not affect the city's trolley line, it did impact bus service for some of the community's neediest neighbors.

Fire crews used excavators to dig through the rubble Tuesday night of what remains of the city's bus garage. It is a mangled mess of metal with charred frames of buses lost to fire.

When the flames erupted, tires and fuel caused explosions inside and posed a challenge for firefighters.

"By the time they arrived, it was through the roof already, so it was a defensive fire from the beginning. After that, the roof collapsed on top of the fire and then you have issues getting water where you needed to," explained Kokomo Deputy Fire Chief Nick Glover.

The building is a total loss. Six "Spirit of Kokomo" paratransit buses, which cost around $60,000 each, were burned and destroyed.

Deputy Chief Glover says a bus driver noticed the fire and called 911. Several mechanics were able to quickly rescue a few of the vehicles.

"They really did a good job. They pulled about five or six out," he said.

But the loss of transportation, with six buses gone, will still be painful for those in need. The Spirit of Kokomo bus system is literally a lifeline for hundreds of residents. It serves the elderly and people with disabilities, taking them to the doctor, to work, or to get groceries.

Nearly 500 trips were scheduled for Wednesday. Now, with fewer vehicles, they can only run about 350 routes.

The City of Kokomo said Spirit of Kokomo users should expect delays in service on Wednesday. The senior bus will run normally, but minor delays are possible. The City Line Trolley will run on a normal schedule.

Fire took what many depend on every day.

Now, as fire investigators work on finding a cause to this fire, Kokomo's transportation leaders will begin trying to replacements for the buses that were lost, including possible loaner buses from other communities.

They want to make sure people who are served by this system can still get around town.