Firefighters battled for 12 hours to contain a blaze that tore through the main bridge in Warsaw, cutting off one of the capital’s key transport links.
No one was hurt in the blaze, but it is feared to have caused considerable damage to the Lazienkowski Bridge, a 40-year-old steel span that was set to undergo renovation.
“The main operation lasted 12 hours,” fire service spokesman Pawel Fratczak told AFP on Sunday. “But the firefighters are continuing to monitor the site.”
“Experts were going to examine the state of the bridge (Sunday) morning to check for any structural damage… But it is already clear that the asphalt on a long stretch will have to be relaid,” Fratczak said.
Authorities also fear that the fire has damaged telecommunications, gas and electric cables that ran along the 1,388 foot bridge across the Vistula river.
The effort involved 144 firefighters deployed on both banks of the river as well as on a barge that sprayed jets of water onto the burning structure.
A huge cloud of smoke hung over the Saska Kepa neighbourhood near the banks of the Vistula on Sunday morning. The fire broke out at 1630 GMT Saturday when wooden planks stored under the six-lane bridge burst into flames, quickly spreading to wooden parts of the bridge.
The Lazienkowski bridge was ravaged by a fire the year after it was built in 1974. That fire was “almost identical”, Fratczak said. “Who says history doesn’t repeat itself?”