Hesperia Bridge Over Interstate 15 Catches Fire in High Winds, Poor Water Supply, San Bernardino County, CA

A construction worker’s blowtorch started the intense blaze that brought down the overpass. One of the collapses was captured on video.

Hesperia firefighters, San Bernardino County firefighters and California Highway Patrol responded about 1:30 p.m. Monday to a report of a fire involving an overpass bridge under construction on Interstate 15 between Joshua Street/395 and Ranchero Road. Both directions of the I-15 in Hesperia were closed until further notice, according to Caltrans.

Debris falling from the burning bridge fell onto freeway lanes which forced lane closures and prevented firefighters from fighting the fire up close — including positioning under the structure. Firefighters immediately requested full closure of the interstate in both directions. The California Highway Patrol reported that Interstate 15 in the area would remain closed for at least 24 to 48 hours.

Breaking News Video: All three lanes of Interstate 15 in Hesperia were closed in both directions Monday after a construction worker’s blowtorch caught the overpass bridge’s wooden supports on fire.

Early investigation indicates that least one worker cutting rebar with a cutting torch ignited a wooden section of the bridge, according to the San Bernardino County Fire Department. Steady winds at 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph during the fire fanned the flames. Winds also hindered direct stream of water from reaching the seat of the fire when firefighters were required to position a distance from ongoing collapse zones.

A lack of local water supply were a challenge to rapid suppression of the fire. A number of water tenders (fire department water tanker trucks) were brought to scene to support the large volume of water being utilized to combat the blaze.

In all, 11 engines, one truck company, one patrol, six water tenders, and one hand crew totaling over 60 firefighting personnel were assigned to the incident as well as multiple chief officers. An additional strike team of engines was deployed to the High Desert to backfill committed resources and provide uninterrupted service for additional 911 responses which included a structure fire in the City of Hesperia.

San Bernardino County Fire remains in Unified Command with the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans. Final operations include the complete demolition of the bridge with ongoing fire suppression efforts as engineers bring down sections of the project. Duration of this task ranges from 24 to 48 hours.

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