(Le Mars) — Le Mars city officials met with a bridge inspector Monday morning to get a better look at the damage that occurred Saturday evening when firefighters responded to a fire beneath the bridge that crosses the Floyd River at the southern edge of town. The fire beneath the bridge between 24th Street southwest, and Exit 116 of Highway 75 was reported at about 10:11 p.m. The fire was an accidental fire that started due to a homeless individual who had been residing beneath the bridge and was wanting to cook and to stay warm.
Upon arrival firefighters encountered fire under the east end of the bridge and fire coming up through the bridge east expansion joint area. The fire spread from debris under the bridge to a rubber membrane in the expansion joint area that serves as a rain gutter to filter water off of the joint in the bridge. Firefighters extinguished the fire under the bridge and put out the rubber membrane gutter that extends across all four lanes of the bridge. Due to the extreme heat the bridge was closed to traffic until it had a chance to cool down and an inspection of the bridge’s structural integrity could be completed.
Firefighters were on scene for approximately 1 ½ hours and used just under 2000 gallons of water to extinguish the fire in the debris and rubber membrane.
The origin of the fire was located in debris under the bridge. The cause for the fire was determined to be Accidental with the most probable cause being a fire that spread from an individual under the bridge attempting to cook some food and the fire got out of control and spread to nearby combustibles.
As of Monday, February 14, 2022, the bridge has been inspected and it has been determined by engineers that the bridge can be reopened. City Administrator Jason Vacura tells of the bridge inspector’s findings.
Any damage to the bridge has been determined to be to Non-Critical components for the bridge and these will not prohibit the bridge from functioning properly. The bridge will re-open today Monday, February 14, 2022, at approximately 1:30pm.
The bridge will have to be closed again at some point in the future to repair the non-critical items such as the rubber rain gutter and to complete some repair of cosmetic issues.