By Per Peterson
The Tracy Fire Department was one of many in Lyon County to assist with a major fire Tuesday at the Southwest Coaches, Inc. building/garage on Hwy. 23 on the south edge of Marshall.
The fire started sometime before 7 a.m. Tuesday and eventually, a trail of smoke wafted high above the ground from Marshall, all the way to Tracy. The blaze began on the east side of the building that is also home to Southwest Tour & Travel, which has been in business for more than 40 years. A number of Southwest Coaches busses were parked across the highway on a frontage road.
Don Culligan, who has been driving bus for six years, said to his knowledge one coach bus and one school bus were destroyed, as were other vehicles, including passenger trucks and a large tractor used to move snow.
He said he knew before 7 a.m. that something was going on.
“I showed up for work and everyone was making comments — ‘Something smells.’ Then one of the gals who works there asked me to help move a couple busses quick, that’s when we realized something was going on. You couldn’t see it yet, but you could smell it. I went to get my school bus ready, and all the fire trucks were already coming.”
Culligan said headquarters were quickly relocated to the former Anton building so business could go on.
“All the travel agency people were in there working like crazy,” he said. “They got their computers set up and everything.”
Aside from Tracy and Marshall, other fire departments at the scene included Balaton, Garvin, Russell, Lynd and Ghent. Tracy was called at 7:40 a.m., and Balaton was paged for a tanker at 9:22 a.m.