Incinerated U. of Utah bus a reminder to dig out hydrants

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Hydrants buried in snow delayed firefighters who put out a bus fire on Saturday, leaving the University of Utah shuttle a complete loss.

The shuttle bus driver noticed the front end of his vehicle had caught fire near 2147 E. Pollock Road. He called 911 and grabbed the extinguisher aboard the bus to try to put it out, but when Salt Lake City firefighters arrived at 9:52 a.m., they found the bus engulfed in smoke and flames.

Firefighters went to work, but they soon realized that all of the nearby fire hydrants were buried under snow. Two firefighters were assigned to find and dig out the nearest one, but by the time they did so and put the fire out, the bus was a total loss.

The bus driver was the only person on board and was not injured.

It's unclear whether the ready availability of a hydrant would have made a big difference, said Jasen Asay, spokesman for the fire department. But the incident serves as a warning that everyone should clear the snow from the hydrants near their homes and businesses, before buried hydrants delay firefighters from saving someone's house, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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