Pere Marquette Rail Bridge catches fire amid start of demolition
PORT HURON — The Pere Marquette Rail Bridge briefly caught fire Tuesday as workers were starting to demolish the nearly 100-year-old structure.
The Port Huron Fire Department was called at about 11 a.m. to the bridge, 212 Quay St. Fire Chief Corey Nicholson said the fire was likely caused by heat from torches or saws used during the demolition process, but the fire remains under investigation.
"We're going to look at some mitigations as far as removing any combustible material that may be up there," he said. "Hot work is anything from an open flame to a piece of equipment that would cause excessive heat from friction."
Port Huron Yacht Club Commodore Tyson Connolly said the demolition crew and the yacht club are going to work through any setbacks caused by the fire.
"It doesn't appear like there is anything that will delay production," he said.
However, Nicholson said a second look at the demolition plan may be needed to prevent firefighters from having to return. He forwarded further comment on the issue to city building officials.
In an email Tuesday, David Haynes, the city's planning director, said, "Based on today’s event, work on the Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge will cease until a combustible materials removal plan and/or a fire protection plan is submitted in writing to the city of Port Huron."
Nicholson said there were no injuries from the fire. Additionally, he said there is no hazard to the public.
The Pere Marquette Rail Bridge is located adjacent to the Port Huron Yacht Club. The bridge was completed in 1931 and provided rail access to business north of the Black River for decades. It was placed in its upright position and abandoned in 1975.
Army Corp of Engineers issued the yacht club a demolition permit in 2020. The Corps has said it needs to be taken down before April 30 avoid interfering with shipping routes.
Equipment for the demolition arrived on site late last week.
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This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Pere Marquette Bridge catches fire