General Brown Picking Up Pieces after Bus Garage Fire

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Saturday was clean up day at General Brown Central School District's bus garage, after a fire Friday night destroyed two buses, while severely damaging the others and the garage itself.

Officials say an electric short in one of the buses was to blame for the fire, which broke out shortly before 9 p.m.

"Things wear over time. It was an older bus, it was a 2005 school bus, that stuff just happens as times go on," said Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joe Plummer.

For the first responders to the scene, just getting to the fire was difficult.

The busses were packed into the garage so tightly that once they got through the garage doors, they still had to go through the buses to get to the fire.

But, fire officials say an alarm installed in the garage last year prevented the blaze from being worse.

"With the way the building is composed, there was no windows, so anybody driving by probably wouldn't have seen the smoke and we probably, very easily without the fire detection system, would have lost their entire fleet of buses," Plummer said.

The entire fleet is out of commission, though. At least for now.

District officials say they are leasing buses from two different private companies.

School will be in session come Monday.

"We'll use our website and we also have a calling service that all the parents will get phone calls to let them know what exactly the drill will be," said Stephen Vigliotti, General Brown Central School District Superintendent.

While the fire damaged the buses and the garage extensively, Vigliotti says he's thankful things didn't turn out worse.

"This is an inconvenience and an unfortunate occurrence, but the equipment can be replaced and the structure can be fixed," he said.

Once the cleaning is done, all the buses will have to pass a New York State inspection in order to be put back into service.

Until then, school officials can't know how many buses that will need to be replaced, or how much it could cost the community.

Click here to see our earlier report.

Friday, November 28, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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