The Ranchero Interchange section of Interstate 15 near Hesperia, California is closed following a fire on a bridge section of the roadway. I-15 is a major U.S. highway that connects Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Both lanes of traffic on the interstate have been closed at the site.
According to an Associated Press report, construction at the bridge site was to blame for the disaster. The bridge has been under construction for over one year.
A construction worker reportedly started the fire that led to the bridge damage. It is suspected that the worker accidentally set fire to the bridge's wooden supports using a blowtorch.
The fire and interstate closure were announced yesterday by the City of Hesperia via the city's Facebook page. The city is still adamant that motorists should avoid the area.
Though construction workers were present when the fire began, no serious injuries have been reported. A spokesperson for Caltrans told the AP that one worker had suffered from smoke inhalation.
The fire spread over the bridge starting at around 1:30 pm Monday as firefighters battled the blaze. By Monday night the fire was under control and workers with California's Caltrans agency began clearing away the damaged portion of the bridge. Heavy machinery was brought in to dismantle the structure as the flames were still smoldering.
The bridge closure is a major inconvenience for motorists in Southern California. Though detour routes around the bridge have been established, traffic on those detours is expected to remain heavy until I-15 is reopened.
The City of Hesperia is optimistic that the bridge may be reopened as early as this afternoon. An update via the city's Facebook page states that the northern-bound lanes of the bridge could be opened by as soon as 4:00 pm today.
Image via Facebook/City of Hesperia