A third of the fleet goes up in smoke after devastating fire at Oshawa Bus Depot

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Published August 17, 2023 at 9:04 am

Photo Javon Harwood

Nearly half of all Durham Region Transit (DRT) routes have been cancelled and the much of the rest are running late as the transit company tries to recover from a massive fire that devastated the Oshawa Bus Depot and destroyed up to a third of the fleet Wednesday morning.

The three-alarm blaze had firefighting crews on the scene at Raleigh Avenue in the Farewell Street and Hwy 401 area all day Wednesday, with the Fire Marshalls Office now working their way through the wreckage looking for clues as to the fire’s origin.

All that is known is the fire started in the three-bay bus storage area, which was destroyed due to the high fire load of the stored buses.

At least 20 buses inside the facility were damaged of destroyed and photos from the scene show the building roof collapsing and fire crews trying to douse the flames.

In the meantime, ten routes across the region are cancelled and while 19 others (as well as On-Demand services and specialized transit) are operating, most routes are behind schedule.

Some transit users have been complaining on social media of waits of several hours and more, in fact.

The fire call came in just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday for a report of “heavy smoke and flame” coming from the bus depot in south-east Oshawa. The shift Platoon Chief upgraded the call to a second alarm, followed by the on-scene Incident Commander further upgrading the call to a third alarm and bringing two additional pumper trucks to the blaze.

Crews deployed a “defensive exterior attack” and continued operations throughout the day.

DRT released a statement Wednesday thanking Oshawa Fire for their work in containing the fire and mitigating further damage to the bus fleet and facilities.

“We are very thankful for the exceptional work of the City of Oshawa Fire Department and their staff,” the statement read. “Our main and immediate priorities remain the safety of our staff and customers, and to minimize service disruptions for customers.”

Oshawa Councillor Brian Nicholson, whose ward contains the bus depot, also praised Oshawa Fire for their quick work. “Crews did a fantastic job containing the fire, as fires of this magnitude could quickly spread throughout the building.”

There were no injuries.

DRT admitted the service adjustments now in place will be “challenging” for some riders but said more than 80 per cent of ridership will continue to have access to transit services.

All DRT mechanics are in Oshawa inspecting and repairing all buses that weren’t destroyed to ensure they can be safely returned to service.

A service update is expected to be posted Friday afternoon “once we better understand the status of the facility and bus fleet.”

The objective, DRT added, is to be back at full service by the times students return to class September 5.

For updates visit durhamregiontransit.com.

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