The devastation and destruction that can be caused by fires is not limited to construction sites but on a construction site there are even more opportunities for fires to break out which is why every site needs to have a proper plan in place in case such an incident were to occur.
Although no one likes to anticipate such events, the truth is even the most safety conscious sites can be the source of a fire which spreads not only throughout the entire work site but even beyond its borders and to neighbouring properties, threatening not only workers but possibly even members of the public.
One such incident took place on a huge construction project in California recently where a giant overpass being built on one the busiest freeways caught fire and collapsed.
Not only do such incidents threaten life, they also set work back considerably and cost millions to correct. This particular incident resulted in the entire project being demolished and started practically from scratch.
The apparent cause of the blaze was construction workers working with blow torches to cut through the reinforcing bars of the bridge. The bridge was meant to pass over one of the busiest bridges in the city, 15 Freeway that links LA to Las Vegas.
It is assumed that the blow torches accidentally caused the timber falsework to catch fire and soon the flames engulfed the entire structure.
Photo Source: Latimes.com
Not surprisingly the incident also caused huge delays as the entire freeway had to be shut down in both directions as fire fighters battled to get the blaze under control.
The job of the fire brigade was made even harder by the heavy winds that prevailed on the day, some approaching 60 kilometres per hour. Firefighters battled for at least 2 hours to contain the fire and eventually the entire bridge collapsed.
The following excerpt from Sourceable.net explains:
Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernandino County Fire Department, said that the heat of the fire was so intense that it burnt the asphalt on the freeway, and caused the steel beams of the bridge to glow.
The disruption to freeway traffic caused by the overpass collapse resulted in a kilometres-long traffic jam running in both directions in Hesperia, San Bernadino County.
The destruction is likely to cost millions of dollars considering that the bridge has been totally destroyed. Construction workers have apparently already begun demolishing what remained of the bridge so that work could begin again. The post went on to explain:
Division Chief Britt Sipe of the San Bernandino County Fire Department said that the bridge was being dismantled one chunk at a time and fires continually extinguished as crews proceeded. While crews are working as fast as they can in order to reduce traffic disruptions, safety risks involving heavy timber and iron beams have hampered efforts.
“There’s nothing to save: the bridge collapsed,” said Caltrans spokesman Terri Kashinga. “I think it takes them right to the beginning…they have the ramps done, but this is a major, major loss.”