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updated: 9/30/2011 4:08 PM

4 District 301 buses destroyed in 'suspicious' fire

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  • Buses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School, 10N630 Nesler Road, Elgin.

       Buses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School, 10N630 Nesler Road, Elgin.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comBuses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School near Elgin.

      Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comBuses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School near Elgin.

  • Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comBuses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School on Nesler Road. Foul play is expected, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Department.

      Brian Hill/bhill@dailyherald.comBuses destroyed by fire sit in the parking lot Friday afternoon at Prairie View Grade School on Nesler Road. Foul play is expected, according to the Kane County Sheriff's Department.

 
 

Kane County Sheriff's officials are still trying to determine how four school buses for Prairie View Grade School were set on fire late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Lt. Patrick Gengler of the Kane County Sheriff's Department said firefighters were called at 4 a.m. to the school on Nesler Road where the buses were completely engulfed in flames.

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He said no one was injured in the blaze in the southwest corner of the school's parking lot. The fire was so hot it melted the yellow paint off the buses.

"It (was) really windy out there, but there were no houses or anything around it," Gengler said.

He said the four buses were used by Burlington Central Community Unit School District 301, and parked at Prairie View to make it easier to pick up children in the northeast section of the district.

School district officials said transportation was not affected Friday and that other buses were obtained to pick up students.

"It's definitely suspicious and something we are looking into," Gengler said. "We can't say for sure yet, but it's definitely not something that looks like an accident."

District 301 Assistant Superintendent Greg Rabenhorst estimates the buses cost $80,000 apiece, but that figure may change once the insurance adjusters have completed their investigation, he said.

The district paid roughly $36,000 a year to lease the buses from Midwest Transit. They will be replaced, Rabenhorst said.

• Daily Herald staff writer Lenore T. Adkins contributed to this story.

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