WATCH: Historic New England Bridge Catches Fire

By Jason Hall

June 30, 2021

Firetruck
Photo: Getty Images

The Crook Point Bascule Bridge in Providence, Rhode Island caught fire Tuesday (June 29) night, less than a month after the results of a design competition were announced in an effort to liven the historic landmark.

The Boston Globe reports the raised bridge, which spans the Seekonk River between Providence and East Providence, was reported to have been burning at its midsection at around 9:30 p.m.

The bridge features steel framework, as well as old wooden railroad tires, which were burning during the incident.

A Providence Fire Department boat attempted to douse the fire with a hose, but was unable to reach the flames as they were about 100 feet above water at the time.

“I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but it didn’t start on its own,” Providence Fire Deputy Assistant Chief Brian Mahoney told reporters at the scene.

Firefighter crews have responded to several burning incidents at the bridge every couple of years and authorities have also received calls about jumpers, according to Mahoney, who called the bridge, "a hazard."

The bridge was used for freight trains from the 1940s to 1970s, but abandoned thereafter and has since remained in the upright position, serving mainly as a backdrop for Little League games and the inspiration for Frog & Toad shop t-shirt designs.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation included plans for demolition of the bridge scheduled for 2026-27 as part of a long-term list of statewide transportation projects.

However, the threat of the wrecking ball prompted a drive to save the bridge and instead designate it for a new use.

The City of Providence held an open call for design ideas as part of a competition, which was decided on June 2.

The new design would surround the area with parks, trails and a kayak launch, while also include the construction of a new walkable pier leading up to the bridge, retrofitting of shipping containers into pop-up gatherings and adding an interactive LED light display.

The Providence engineering firm Horsley Witten Group and Johnson & Wales University professor of design Johnathan Harris were credited for the winning proposal.

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