Firefighters and RCMP arrived at the Mid Island Bus lot on Tzouhalem Road early Friday morning to find three buses engulfed in flames.
Two more were damaged beyond repair.
Firefighters from North Cowichan’s South End hall arrived just after 4 a.m. and extinguished the blaze.
Mounties requested a crew again for a flare-up around 7 a.m.
“The tires got going underneath,” explained South End Hall deputy chief Brad Coleman. He and a small crew returned to douse the hot spots while bus drivers arriving for work for the day looked on.
A spokesperson for Mid Island Bus said he company is “deeply saddened” to learn about the fire.
The company provides pick-up and drop-off school bus services for Queen of Angels School and Duncan Christian School.
“Five of our school buses were lost, they were damaged beyond repair,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We are definitely very thankful for the support of the community, the RCMP, and the firefighters who came to extinguish the fires.”
The show will go on, however.
“We are busy at this point working with our schools to ensure all the children continue to get back and forth to school safely,” said the email. “The situation is heartbreaking but we are incredibly grateful that no one was hurt, thankful for the community support and the generous offers of temporary replacement buses from other local schools.”
RCMP detachment commander Insp. Chris Bear said his officers are investigating, calling the blaze suspicious.
“This matter remains under active investigation in determining the cause of the fire,” Bear said. “Police are requesting anyone who may have seen or heard anything to contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.”
Those with information can call 250-748-5522 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (6477).