9 school buses burned in Gainesville

Parents had to provide transportation Friday morning, the last day of school

An overnight fire that destroyed eight school buses in Gainesville is being investigated as arson.

The buses, which were parked outside the Gainesville City Schools bus shop on Woods Mill Road, when they burned around 4:30 a.m. Friday, according to Glenn Allen, spokesman for state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine.

Eight buses were destroyed and a ninth bus was damaged by the fire. There were 42 buses parked in the lot overnight.

Allen said state arson investigators were sent to the scene Friday morning.

Friday is the last day of classes for Gainesville schools, and school officials decided not to run any morning bus routes.

They asked that parents of students at Gainesville High School, Gainesville Middle School and the system's five elementary schools take their children to school or make other arrangements for them to get to class.

Students unable to get to school were given excused absences.

After inspecting the remaining buses, school officials decided to run the afternoon routes.

"Our drivers were so committed to seeing the children this afternoon to say, 'happy last day of school' and 'goodbye'," said school superintendent Merrianne Dyer. "We're taking what we have and getting out there."

Dyer valued the destroyed buses at $60,000 to $70,000 each.

A $10,000 reward has been posted for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the incident.