Responders with Columbus Fire and Rescue work to put out a fire caused by bottle rockets on a railroad bridge over the Tombigbee River Wednesday afternoon. Photo by: Isabelle Altman
July 6, 2017 10:41:48 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
A bottle rocket, apparently left over night, caused a fire Wednesday afternoon on the trestles of the railroad in the middle of Old River Bridge over the Tombigbee River.
Maintenance workers with Alabama Southern Railroad Company, which manages the tracks, reported the fire at about 2 p.m., though Assistant Fire Chief Duane Hughes of Columbus Fire and Rescue said the fire had likely been burning for hours. CFR firefighters responded to the scene, parked their engines just north of the tracks on Second Street South and carefully picked their way along the crossties out over the bridge.
They had to turn back, however, as dispatchers warned of an oncoming train that stopped before reaching the bridge. Then, firefighters worked for several minutes from atop the bridge suppressing the flames.
No one was injured, and it was the only call CFR received about fireworks this year, said Public Information Officer Anthony Colom, though in past years when there's been less rain during holidays like July 4, firefighters have responded to as many as a dozen fireworks calls in a day. It's also rare for railroads to catch fire, Colom said.
Hughes said the incident serves as a reminder to be careful with both railroads and fireworks, and that the railroad tracks over the Tombigbee are not a "hangout spot."
"This is not some place you want to play around," he said.
A spokesperson with Alabama Southern Railroad said the trains were delayed about an hour and that the bridge didn't have any serious structural damage, although the ends of two crossties and part of the guardrail were burned. The railroads were back in service later that afternoon.
Hughes and Colom both said they doubt the fire was set intentionally, and Colom added CFR likely won't be investigating the fire further.
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