RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Public Schools’ Lit limo was one of five buses destroyed today in an early morning garage fire.

Just a week and a half ago 8News partnered with the Lit Limo for the 26th Annual Founders Day of Caring, where 8News team members spent hours installing flooring, shelving and getting the bookmobile back up and running for the summer. Due to budget changes, RPS didn’t have the money to help renovate the new bus, so 8News stepped in to lend a hand.

The Lit Limo’s budget could no longer cover the costs of the new bus because of the devastating fire at William Fox Elementary School earlier this year. School leaders spent months approving a plan to renovate the building, and students ended their school year at Clark Springs Elementary. Today’s fire is yet another hit for RPS.

Firefighters responded to the report of a structure fire and heavy smoke at a property on Chamberlayne Parkway around 6:30 a.m. The property was used by Richmond Public Schools as a school bus fleet maintenance garage.

Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said that the school division has leased the property on Chamberlayne Parkway for nearly 20 years. A spokesperson for RPS confirmed to 8News on Wednesday that the annual lease was just finalized on Tuesday, mere hours before the fire broke out.

“We need to find another garage to be able to do our repairs as quickly as possible. So we’re already working on that as we speak, and, look, we’ll continue to adapt and rise to the moment, as we always do,” Kamras said in previous 8News reporting. “Today’s the first day of summer school. So I was excited to go see the kids this morning. I still plan to do so.”

Five buses were destroyed in today’s fire.

The Lit Limo is a mobile library program that began in the summer of 2020 and became an avenue to reach students and families with books, communication, and outreach during virtual learning. The program is designed to help implement RPS’ literacy and reading strategies as well as create excitement for books for all students. Their motto, “Engage all families to build a culture of joy for reading and writing in Richmond,” says it all. 

In the past, the Limo traveled five days a week based on elementary school zones, with five different zones covered each day of the week. Every child who visits the Lit Limo receives a book of their own, can participate in reading aloud and is signed up for a Richmond Library Card.

The Lit Limo program will still move forward this summer with the old bus. Stay tuned for what’s next for the new, more accessible bus.