Inferno destroys school bus garage, buses
Parkland School District suffered a serious loss to its bus fleet when 16 buses inside, and another dozen buses parked outside the bus garage behind Orefield Middle School were either destroyed or damaged in an early morning fire on Feb. 23.
The 911 call reported someone saw smoke coming from the building, located along Stadium Road adjacent to the football field. Tri-Clover Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Garris arrived on scene soon after the call and reported he saw smoke on the west side of the garage.
When Fire Chief Jeff Johnson arrived on the east facing edifice, he reported heavy fire showing and asked for an additional alarm.
The first alarm included all three South Whitehall departments: Cetronia, Greenawalds and Woodlawn, as well as Tri-Clover.
Also responding were Cetronia Ambulance Corps and South Whitehall police.
Additional departments responding were Schnecksville, and Whitehall’s Egypt station to provide a Rapid Intervention Team, whose role is to rescue trapped firefighters.
Engines were deployed and Cetronia Fire Company’s Tower 331 provide an elevated stream of water to the blaze.
South Whitehall Fire Marshal John Frantz was called to the scene as well as North Whitehall Fire Marshal Don Jacobs.
Frantz requested the Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal be dispatched, as well.
Deputy Fire Marshal James Welsh, Troop M, Bethlehem, was dispatched.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Gerard Gallagher also responded to the scene.
The school district sent the following message to families Friday afternoon:
“The bus garage behind the Parkland Football Stadium caught fire in the middle of the night,” the district wrote. “Unfortunately, all 16 buses that were inside the garage were completely destroyed and buses that were parked nearby were damaged.
“We are extremely relieved to report no one was injured during the fire. We are optimistic that school will resume on Monday.
“However, we will send an updated message to all families by Sunday at 3 p.m. to confirm this.
“We are waiting for delivery of buses from two leasing companies and working to repair some of our mildly damaged fleet.
“Please note that since this was our fourth lost day of school, we need to make up the day.
The message stated school would be in session March 29.
“At this time, the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Our bus fleet and facilities are fully insured and all of the items that were damaged or destroyed will be replaced.
“We’d like to make mention that we are particularly grateful to surrounding school districts who offered to loan us spare buses and other assistance which is a testament to the wonderful community that we live in here in the Lehigh Valley.”