Four of the City of Turlock’s buses are out of service following a fire in the City Corp Yard Saturday night that ignited the Compressed Natural Gas tanks which power the buses.
The fire department responded to a call at 11:25 p.m. Saturday in the City Corp Yard at 701 S. Walnut Rd. Firefighters were on scene under a minute, as Fire Station No. 32 is located directly behind the corporation yard. When they arrived, firefighters found a Turlock Transit bus on fire.
The fire spread to three other buses, which were parked parallel to the bus on fire.
According to the fire department, the intensity of the fire heated the Compressed Natural Gas tanks on multiple buses which caused their pressure relief valves to open. The escaping gas created extremely high hazard fire conditions. The fire department used water streams from a ladder truck to break through the high heat given off by the fire.
Four of the City’s 13 Turlock Transit buses were damaged due to the fire and/or water damage.
“Due to the hard work of firefighters and well-placed hose lines, the dollar loss was kept to approximately $400,000, while the value of the buildings, property, and equipment saved was much greater,” said Turlock Fire Chief Robert Talloni.
Turlock Fire Department responded with three engines, one ladder truck, one battalion chief, Fire Marshal and Chief of the Department. Ceres Fire Department provided mutual aid assistance with one engine and one battalion chief as part of a county-wide Resource Sharing Agreement, bringing the total number of firefighting personnel to 19.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
City of Turlock administration, including Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth, spent Sunday working on a plan to keep the City’s six fixed bus routes operating come Monday morning.
Director of Development Services Mike Pitcock said the City should have enough buses to run the routes, with one to spare.
“We’re working on a plan to keep service going and on a contingency plan,” he said.
According to Pitcock, the City has two to four buses out of service for maintenance issues at any given time.
In January, the City Council approved the purchase of two new buses, which are scheduled to be delivered on Monday. Given the circumstances, the City will try to get the California Highway Patrol required inspection of the new buses expedited.