MASSILLON, Ohio (WJW) – A well-known symbol of high school football pride and celebration in Massillon recently went up in flames.
“There is a large uproar in the community, and they want to know what happened,” said Massillon Police Chief Jason Saintenoy. “The fact that the vehicle that caught on fire was so well recognized by the department and by the community, people want to know what’s going on.”
Matt Byard, the owner of the tiger-striped bus, stood in the rain Monday staring in disbelief at its blackened shell.
“The memories you can’t get back,” said Byard.
The bus was often used in parades and tailgating celebrations for about the past 20 years. Byard said he found out around 7 p.m. last Wednesday about the fire and was stunned.
“It was intentionally set, I guarantee you that, because there’s no battery in this during the off-season,” said Byard. “I take the battery out. There’s no way for the fire to start.”
Investigators have not ruled the fire an arson. A police report states a witness saw kids riding bicycles near the area. The investigation remains ongoing.
“That vehicle has been around for a long time and for it to just suddenly go up in flames, it’s suspicious,” said Saintenoy.
Byard said his other vehicle parked next to the bus off 15th Street SW was also damaged in the fire. He estimates the total loss to be around $7,000.
“I believe in Karma and I believe it comes around, so one day it’s going to bite them in the butt.”