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Ulen fire leaves district short on buses

A fire Saturday evening in Ulen, Minn., totaled a Ulen-Hitterdal School District bus, leaving the district short on transportation needs for Monday. The fire apparently started due to an electrical glitch in the block heater of the bus, said Dave...

Damaged in a fire

A fire Saturday evening in Ulen, Minn., totaled a Ulen-Hitterdal School District bus, leaving the district short on transportation needs for Monday.

The fire apparently started due to an electrical glitch in the block heater of the bus, said Dave Begg, Ulen fire chief. No one was injured.

The fire was reported about 5:45 p.m. by volunteer firefighter Tim Doran, Begg said. Doran was driving by the district's bus garage in Ulen, near his home, when he saw smoke coming out of the uninsulated metal building.

"Smoke was just coming out between the seams," Begg said.

The fire caused damage to four other buses in the garage. Two suffered melted doors, windows, lights and wiring. Two are merely black with smoke damage.

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"The windows are so black you can't even see out of them, inside and out," said Mark Schreiner, Ulen-Hitterdal School District transportation director.

Fire crews pulled the destroyed bus out with a fire truck and chain. The other four they drove out, Begg said. He thought the buses were driven to the Ulen-Hitterdal Public School in Ulen.

Crews quashed the flames within a half-hour and spent two hours cleaning up.

The loss of the five buses left the district wondering about options for the upcoming school week.

About 275 students are in the district, Schreiner said, and the five buses were the main route buses. The district, under open enrollment, picks up kids from Ulen, Hitterdal and other towns and rural areas, such as Felton and Twin Valley.

Other buses were left unscathed. A sheetrock wall separated a spare bus from the fire, Schreiner said, and the district has a minibus, which was parked inside a heated stall during the blaze. Two other spare buses sat outside.

Schreiner said the district has contacted the Hawley School District about renting or loaning a bus to Ulen-Hitterdal. He said the district would decide today on its approach.

Begg said the fire is under investigation.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Lee Morris at (701) 241-5523

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