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Firefighters Battle Bridge Fire from Mississippi River

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DUBUQUE, Iowa — Dubuque County fire crews fought more than just flames when they responded to a train bridge fire Monday afternoon.

Just before 12 p.m. a fire erupted on a Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge that sits along the Mississippi River about two miles south of Massey Station Marina. That is near St. Catherine in Dubuque County.

Fire officials say there is no way a firetruck could access the burning bridge from dry land.

The thick smoke dozens of boaters could see from the river, Bruce Drapeau could see up close, from his own front porch.

Drapeau said, “The view was gone. It was totally blacked off and it was just a wall of smoke coming this way.”

Drapeau called the Key West fire department to his house and helped firefighters on a four wheeler navigate the wooded path that leads to the river.

“The whole trestle was on fire when we got down there. The pillars were on fire. The whole top of the trestle was burning. Everything,” said Drapeau.

From the river fire crews used boats to access the burning bridge.

Key West Fire Chief Brian Arnold said, “Whenever you are working on the river you’re dealing with the current to keep the boat steady.”

But that vantage point also meant an endless supply of water.

“That was an asset because all the creosote and all those ties burning. It took a lot of water to get it cooled down and put out. We actually had three boats pumping on it,” said Arnold.

Investigators say welders from Canadian Pacific were working on the bridge about a half-hour before the fire started. The railroad company says no one was hurt. They aren’t yet saying when that busy bridge will reopen.

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