Who would have thought one construction worker’s careless mistake could lead to a bridge collapse and major traffic jams?
On Monday a fire was ignited on Interstate 15 in Hesperia, Calif. by one of the workers at a bridge construction site.
The worker’s blowtorch somehow managed to set the wooden supports of the Ranchero Road overpass bridge on fire.
The Caltrans contractors were so into their work that no one was even aware that anything was wrong.
It was not until firefighters had them evacuate for their own safety that workers were even aware of the fire.
None of the contractors reported any injuries though one person reportedly suffered from smoke inhalation symptoms.
Dozens of firefighters attacked the blaze, but windy conditions and little access to water made containing the fire very difficult.
— L.A. Times: L.A. Now (@LANow) May 6, 2014
The fire was eventually brought under control by Monday evening, aside from some smoldering.
The fire and resulting bridge collapse led to authorities closing the freeway. The falling debris made it unsafe for traffic.
The bridge closure resulted in traffic being backed up for six miles to the south and nearly twenty miles to the north of the scene of the collapse.
Officials expect traffic problems to continue through Wednesday.
“The Cajon Pass is going to be a nightmare for the next 24 to 48 hours,” warned San Bernardino County Fire Capt. Josh Wilkins. He hinted that the problem could stretch beyond the next couple of days.
“If at all possible, avoid [the pass] altogether…because there is just no way they’re going to open it any time soon.”
— FOX 13 Tampa Bay (@MyFoxTampaBay) May 6, 2014
Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga strongly suggests those impacted by the bridge collapse use alternate routes such as interstates 138 and 18.
It’s terrible luck that this happened at Southern California’s main connector to Las Vegas.
The bridge has been reportedly under construction since early 2013. There’s no telling how much of a setback this fire will be to the ongoing project.
Image via YouTube