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Buses Caught in the Line of Fire at Depot

More than 50,000 worth of damage was caused when eight coaches - lined up in a row - were destroyed by fire.

The coaches were parked at Jeffs Coaches in Station Road, Helmdon, when one caught fire in the early hours of Sunday.

The fire then spread, destroying eight coaches and damaging one other.

Sales and marketing manager Julie Bosley said: "They are completely burned out with just the shells left. It is quite eerie."

It was not known what started the fire, but staff says it could have been a lot worse as it could have spread to more of the company's 80 coaches.

It took fire fighters just over an hour to get the blaze under control.

Mrs Bosley said: "A lady from the village spotted the fire, alerted the fire brigade and contacted the transport manager Bill Grendall.

He came from Banbury and removed six of the coaches out of the way so they didn't get caught up in it.

"Three of the coaches that were destroyed were front line tour vehicles and two were brand new coaches last year and it's sad when you see two of them destroyed.

"It is pretty upsetting. Jeffs is a family business and they take a tremendous pride in everything."

But the fire did not prevent the company operating the business as usual, as all tours and trips were planned to go ahead as scheduled. Mrs Bosley said: "We were very fortunate. We have big commitments to the schooling side of things, apart from travelling and touring, and we had other coaches to cover our business.

"From an operational point of view the fire was annoying, but could be overcome."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but police said yesterday (Wednesday) they were not treating it as suspicious.

The Banbury Guardian - 17th Jan 2002
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