Police, firefighters and ambulances rushed to the scene of a major fire at Fornebu, west of Oslo, early Wednesday morning that destroyed two of the buses used for partying by graduating high school students known as russ. Heat from the fire and smoke also damaged at least one other russebuss along with additional vehicles parked inside a garage.
The fire was so intense that it sent up huge clouds of smoke and initially raised fears of explosions. Police evacuated around 60 people in the area and one person was treated for minor injuries.
No students were believed to have been sleeping inside the buses, which are colourful but highly controversial in the spring russ season, when those owning them drive around with music blaring at all hours of the day and night. Questions immediately arose over whether someone fed up with the loud partying may have set the buses ablaze.
Police said it was too early to determine the cause of the fire, but told newspaper VG that it seemed to have started in a nearby garbage container. The buses were parked in a garage attached to an automotive repair shop.
“It began to burn in some garbage containers and spread to the buses in the garage,” operations leader Tor Audunhus of the Oslo fire brigade told VG.
One of the buses that was gutted by the fire belonged to a group of female russ from Nesodden, across the fjord from Oslo. They told VG they had worked all winter fixing up the bus, painting it to reflect the work of the late artist Pushwagner and calling it “Soft City,” the name of a book written by Pushwagner who died just last week.
“He died last week and now the bus has burned up,” Marte Classon, head of the group owning the bus, told VG. “This is just so sad. And it ruins half the russ season for us.”
An investigation into the cause of the blaze was underway.