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RCMP investigating fire that destroyed school bus

Community rallies to support Cedars Christian School after deliberately-set fire left newly-purchased bus a charred ruin
18 Cedars Christian School arson bus
This burnt shell of a vehicle is all that was left of a new school bus purchased by Cedars Christian School to transport students and the school's Eagles sports teams. The bus was purposely set on fire sometime early Friday morning and Prince George RCMP are investigating the case as a criminal matter.

When Cedars Christian School principal Shane Nelson left work Wednesday afternoon, the school’s $80,000 school bus purchased for the start of the school year was left in its usual place in the staff parking lot.

When Nelson and school staff returned Friday morning for a non-instructional day after the Remembrance Day holiday, that $80,000 school bus was a charred skeleton of melted metal after somebody set it on fire and destroyed it.

“It’s a pretty traumatic event to drive in and see that,” said Nelson. “We have insurance, but it was hard to come here and see that. We’re just thankful more didn’t happen there.”

Nelson confirmed the RCMP are investigating the fire as being deliberately set.

“It wasn’t an accident, I’ll say that,” said Nelson. ”It’s hard to think of what possesses people to do that.”

Triggered by a fire alarm, the fire was first noticed at about 4:30 a.m. Friday and a Prince George Fire Rescue crew rushed to the scene and was able to contain the blaze and keep it from spreading to the adjacent portable classroom and main school building. Both structures had broken windows as a result of the intense heat of the bus fire and the new playground sod was scorched, but there was no other apparent damage to school property.

The school is at 701 North Nechako Rd, where North Nechako meets Preston Road.

The bus is used to drive the Grade 12 phys-ed students to off-campus activities and had been the means of transport for the Cedars volleyball and cross country running teams to out-of-town competitions. The independent school has been hosting golf tournaments the past few years to raise the money needed to buy it. Since the fire, the Ness Lake Bible Camp and Diversified Transportation have both offered to provide Cedars the use of a bus and drivers at no cost to the school.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with people showing support, it’s a real blessing for sure,” said Nelson. “These kinds of things make you take stock on what’s important and what can disappear in a moment.”

Nelson and other school staff met with the students on Monday to explain what happened to the bus and have covered it with a tarp until insurance investigators have had a chance to pour over the wreckage.