Construction Worker Causes I-15 Bridge Collapse
An accidental fire set by a construction worker caused a devastating fire that has destroyed the Rancho Road overpass bridge of I-15 near Hesperia, California. Interstate 15, the main freeway connecting Southern California and Las Vegas, is expected to remain closed to traffic in both direction for several days. Falling debris and the collapse of the newly constructed bridge caused a severe back-up of trucks and automobiles, extending about six miles to the south and more than a 20-mile backup toward the north.
Fire officials who battled the blaze in dangerous conditions including very high winds with limited water access, report that a construction worker’s blowtorch accidentally set fire to the wooden supports underneath the bridge.
The fire got out of control so quickly and became so hot that the bridge totally collapsed.
Some Caltrans workers who were unaware that fire had broken out had to be rescued off of the construction site by firefighters. It was reported that one Caltrans worker had to be hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Caltrans officials called the freak accident the worst bridge fire in California history. They advised motorists to completely avoid the area and use Interstate 18 and 138 as alternate routes.
According to reports, traffic was slightly lighter Tuesday than it was after Monday’s bridge collapse, but motorists on northbound I-15 reported that traffic was still backing up into the Cajon Pass before the northbound lanes were reopened.
“Being able to drive this section of the freeway is beyond wonderful, but look at that mess,” Kevin Williams said by phone as he drove through the remains of the damaged bridge about 30 minutes after the northbound lanes were open. “It’s really bumpy right where the bridge went over the freeway. Looks like there are patches missing on the roadway.”
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.
I-15 bridge collapse video
I-15 bridge collapse
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