Kokomo scrambles to replace buses destroyed in fire

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Leaders in Kokomo say that nearly 500 seniors a day use the city's bus service to get around. A fire Tuesday night destroyed six of those much-needed buses.

If mechanics and workers at the city garage had not been working overtime around 5:00 pm Tuesday, it could be a much more tragic situation. Workers literally went running into the burning building to drive the buses out of the building.

"It was very much an adrenaline rush," said mechanic Bill Sullivan who says instinct took over Tuesday night.

"When I came up to the building I saw one of the busses on fire," he said.

He and another worker ran into the burning building to drive the buses out.

The fire spread so quickly he decided one trip in was more than enough.

"Smoke was just rolling so heavily out that you could not see anything in front of you at all and the building went up very quickly," Sullivan said Wednesday.

Now, it's all a pile of ash and rubble. The frames of six of the twelve seat buses are all that remain.

They are lifelines to seniors around Kokomo.

"I have a lot of doctors," said Kokomo resident Rebecca Hahn.

"We get to go to our doctor appointment we get to do our shopping and we get to come here to the Senior Center to keep seniors motivated," she said.

She's one of the more than 150 who lost her ride Wednesday.

While a family member took her to her appointments, she's worried about the rest of the week.

"I would not get to my doctors and I could hurt me also," Hahn said.

City leaders are scrambling to replace the buses, while making due with the few that remain.

No one was hurt in the Tuesday fire, but for mechanic Bill Sullivan, this is a haunting image.

"To see these buses that I have worked on all the time and now there is just nothing left of them it's just overwhelming," Sullivan said.

Officials say that surrounding communities have offered their buses to help with needs while they try to get things back to normal.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.