published Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Burning of Catoosa County school buses ruled arson

  • photo
    Two Catoosa County school buses were found burned near a baseball park in Ringgold, Ga., on Sunday morning.
    Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal's office at the arson hotline 1-800-282-5804.

A fire that torched two Catoosa County, Ga., school buses has been ruled arson, and police are looking for suspects in the crime.

Police said they have investigated school buses being damaged but never a fire lighted inside a vehicle's doors.

"It's very unusual," Catoosa County Sheriff's Office Lt. Chris Lyons said.

The fire was reported Sunday morning at a parking lot near the Jack Mattox Baseball Park in Ringgold, where one bus was set on fire and the flames spread to a nearby bus, officials said.

The buses, which serve Graysville Elementary School, Ringgold Middle School and Ringgold High School, were destroyed, school officials said.

Classes begin Tuesday in Catoosa, but officials say the fire won't affect the school system's ability to provide safe transportation to students. Extra buses that don't fit in the garage are parked around town, including at the Ringgold park, county schools spokeswoman Marissa Brower said.

Doug Suits, the district's director of operations, said in a written statement that the charred buses were insured and will be replaced.

"We keep extra buses in our fleet so we can take buses off the road for routine maintenance," he said. "We will use two of these extra buses when school begins."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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