Arizona rail bridge partially collapses after train derailment ignites fire

As many as 10 train cars derailed and the south side of the bridge collapsed and caught fire

July 30, 2020 / 1 minute read
Salt River Union Pacific Bridge catches fire
Image: Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) via Twitter

A rail bridge suffered partial collapse over Tempe Town Lake in Arizona on Wednesday after a freight train derailed on the bridge and sparked a massive fire, according to local reports.

A Union Pacific Railroad spokesperson told AZ Family that as many as 10 train cars derailed at about 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, and that the south side of the bridge then collapsed and caught fire. 

The bridge reportedly collapsed just feet from Tempe Beach Park and the town lake corridor. The train crew was reportedly not hurt but one person at the park was treated for smoke inhalation.

Union Pacific told local news outlets that this bridge undergoes visual inspection every 30 days, and the structure underwent its annual inspection on July 9. It is not yet clear based on reports what caused Wednesday's derailment and subsequent bridge collapse and fire.

Local reports say the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway was closed in both directions between S.R. 143 and Loop 101 for several hours. The freeway has since reopened.

According to AZ Central, the Salt River Union Pacific Bridge was built in 1912 and survived as floods destroyed the previous three truss bridges constructed at the same location. The bridge is primarily used by cargo trains. About a month ago, a Union Pacific train derailed 12 cars along the same bridge, damaging the rail ties, but the line re-opened the following morning.

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SOURCE: AZ Family / AZ Central

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