An Interstate 95 bridge in Philadelphia collapsed Sunday after a large vehicle caught fire under it, causing thick black smoke and closing the road in both directions.
Local televisions showed images of what happened: a large column of black smoke and a part of the road burned with melted iron and smoked cement due to the intensity of the fire.
The incident occurred near the city of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) and, for now, local authorities believe that the collapse has not caused any injuries, Derek Bowmer, captain of the Philadelphia fire department, said at a press conference.
All lanes of I95 closed in both directions between Woodhaven and Aramingo exits due to fire/road collapse. Other streets closed for the response. Avoid area. Plan and seek alternative travel routes. pic.twitter.com/myNyH0nCiq— Philadelphia OEM (@PhilaOEM) June 11, 2023
According to Bowmer, Philadelphia emergency crews responded to the fire around 6:30 a.m. local time (10:30 a.m. GMT) and quickly realized the fire was coming from a large burning vehicle that was located under the freeway.
At first, local media reported that it was a tanker truck, but local authorities did not confirm it.
Bowmer explained that the fire in the vehicle could have touched gas pipes that go through below ground, causing small explosions and fires around the highway.
All lanes of the highway are closed between the Woodhaven and Aramingo exits, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet Sunday morning.
Authorities have urged drivers to avoid the road, which it will remain closed to traffic for some time.
Around 6:30am, PFD responded to a large fire under I-95 near the Cottman Avenue exit in Northeast Philly. PFD placed the fire under control at 7:30am, but there is an ongoing emergency response from dozens of city, state, & fed. agencies as part of I-95 N&S is closed. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ZOJwuLVjyA— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) June 11, 2023
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said on Twitter that he has been informed of what happened and indicated that he is coordinating with the authorities of the neighboring state of New Jersey and with the federal government to respond to the situation.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted that he is “closely monitoring” the situation and coordinating the response with officials.
“I have been in contact with [the Federal Highway Administration] and have spoken with Governor Shapiro to offer any assistance that USDOT can provide to help with recovery and rebuilding”, he tweeted.
The damaged highway, Interstate 95 (I-95), serves as a link between major cities on the US East Coast and is used by millions of Americans every day.
The highway , with a length of 3,096 kilometers, runs from Miami, Florida, to the border between the state of Maine, USA, and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.