ROANOKE, Va.- – The investigation into a massive fire continued late Wednesday after flames destroyed several historic buses inside the Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum.
Bev Fitzpatrick Jr. was hoping he would never see what he did when he arrive on scene early Tuesday morning.
"I was scared 15 years ago when we went in an older building that this might happen. So my worst fear came true," said Fitzpatrick, the executive director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation and president of Commonwealth Coach and Trolley Museum.
Fitzpatrick said half the collection was destroyed including one of his favorites used in the annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
"It was number 102. A 1958 Roanoke City Line Bus which some of us rode the bus at Patrick Henry High School, Fitzpatrick said. "We had restored it and found it in a field in Floyd County. Restored it inside and out and mechanically. It was like the showpiece. She was right in the middle of the building."
Fitzpatrick said there is no insurance on the building and no sprinkler system.
"We don't have the money to do it. We have a Facebook thing up right now to raise money to help us get back in business.
Now he plans to look for another site to continue on providing charter bus transportation for thousands of people a year.
"We've done weddings to a lot of other nonprofit events," Fitzpatrick said.
Fire officials said the call came in after midnight. A police officer was asked to check for smoke and that's how he found the fire.
"Being the area down here is secluded and it really takes someone driving by here, we feel the fire was burning a while before we got the call," Chief Hoback said.
Hoback said this is the largest fire this year. They're working with the ATF, fire marshals office and police department to find out the cause.
CC & T leaders were getting ready to announce a new partnership with the transportation museum.
We're told volunteers were inside the museum until 5 p.m. Wednesday restoring a Marine bus that came from Camp LeJeune to take patients at the Veterans Affairs on rides.