Fire hard to control
Several emergency response crews battled a fire at Southwest Tours and Travel along Highway 23 in Marshall. They including the Minneota Fire Department. In fact, Minneota Fire Chief Jeff Sussner said all the crews in the county had been called out.
The fire broke out Tuesday morning at Southwest Tour and Travel. Apparently, the buses were on their rounds and other buses were moved from the building. Lyon Co., Emergency Management indicated fire departments and other emergency responders were at the building for much of the Tuesday.
Temperatures in Marshall were hovering in the mid-teens on Tuesday. Warming tents had been set up for first responders at the scene. The facility houses tour buses and other equipment.
There has been no official report on how the fire began, but it’s suspected it started in a chimney.
Apparently, two buses were lost in the fire and the roof collapsed. Tour and school buses were parked outside the building during Tuesday’s fire so it appeared many of the vehicles were removed before they could be destroyed.
Southwest Tours and Travel is a motor coach tour and charter company and also is the school bus transportation company for Marshall Schools and others in the surrounding area. Southwest Tours and Travel has been in operation for 45 years.
Apparently, a chimney fire was originally reported about 7 a.m. Marshall Fire Chief Quentin Brunsvold reported the fire went into the roof and rafters of the building, which posed a challenge for firefighters.
High ceilings with steel siding and a steel roof made the fire more difficult. It was harder to get into the structure to find the fire, reported the chief. The roof eventually collapsed.
Firefighters used a forklift to pry up part of the steel roofing on the garage.
Company officials announced after the fire that the school bus schedules would not be affected.
Southwest Coaches operates a total of 20 school bus routes in Marshall, traveling to Marshall High School, Marshall Middle School, Parkside Elementary, West Side Elementary, MATEC, Holy Redeemer School and Samuel Lutheran School.
The fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office.