RICHMOND, Va. — A fleet maintenance garage on Chamberlayne Avenue used by Richmond Public Schools for more than 20 years was destroyed in a fire, according to Richmond Superintendent Jason Kamras.
Richmond Fire officials said the initial call about the fire came in around 6:27 a.m. and crews arrived within minutes. It was declared a second-alarm fire at 6:33 a.m.
About an hour later, fire officials said the fire was under control.
At least four or five buses and two vehicles inside of the building were destroyed. Officials said there was also a bus outside of the building that was damaged beyond repair.
One of those buses destroyed was the schools' new "Lit Limo," a library on wheels.
An employee was inside the building at the time of the fire, but escaped without any injuries, according to officials.
Timothy Marston, who works nearby, said he heard about five small explosions. He watched across the street as the fire crews raced to put out the flames.
"I heard a coworker come in 10 minutes before me and there was absolutely nothing. No smoke or anything. Within 10 minutes the building was blazing," Marston recalled. "The heat on this side must have been 20 to 30 degrees hotter from the fire on this side of the road."
Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said oxygen or diesel tanks stored inside the garage may explain the small explosions.
Kamras said he woke up to the news of the fire. He initally planned to spend his morning visiting students during the first day of summer school.
"We will continue to adapt and rise to the moment as we always do," he stated.
Kamras said they are looking for a new location to do repairs on their bus fleet. A spokesperson for RPS added that their facility on the city's south side is not equipped to do repairs.
Richmond Fire investigators will determine cause of the fire and if there were working smoke alarms inside.
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