Portion of Tempe Town Lake bridge damaged in train derailment detonated

Crews on Sunday detonated a 150-foot portion of a bridge over Tempe Town Lake, which was damaged in a train derailment last week. 

A series of horn blasts warned those nearby to clear the area minutes before the stretch of rail bridge was detonated. Debris from the crash days before and the subsequent clean-up was still seen nearby.

At about 8:15 a.m., a brief spark and a puff of black smoke was visible as the designated portion of the bridge collapsed to the ground underneath. A loud booming sound could be heard as the ground briefly shook. 

Tempe police said in a tweet that an inspection after the blast ensured all the charges went off successfully.

Officials described the detonation as a success at a media briefing afterward. There were no injuries and crews were given to go-ahead to continue clean-up efforts. 

The work was focused along the south side of the lake between Tempe Town Lake and Rio Salado Parkway, according to Tempe Fire Department Assistant Chief Andrea Glass.

Prior to the detonation, Tempe police were seen ordering those gathered go back inside shortly before 8 a.m. They asked residents to shelter in place and to stay away from windows over an intercom.

Glass previously explained that the partial demolition involves putting charges around various parts of the bridge in addition to small incisions which will allow for the most damaged section of the bridge to drop below. 

The detonation will not impact the rest of the bridge, she noted.

Nearby residents were asked to evacuate on a voluntary basis. However, few relocated to the designated evacuation center early Sunday. 

Southwest Gas shut off services between 7 and 9 a.m. to Culinary Dropout, The Lodge Sasquatch Kitchen and the community pool area at 430 W. First St. 

Valley Metro light rail stations were delayed at Third Street and Mill Avenue and Center Parkway and Priest Drive.

Train derails, engulfs in flames

Eight to 10 cars carrying lumber and hazardous material derailed around 6 a.m. on a railroad bridge over the Tempe Town Lake Wednesday morning. 

The 102-car Union Pacific freight train engulfed in flames on the more than 100-year-old bridge causing the structure to partially collapse on the south end. 

Two of the three cars that collapsed on the bridge were carrying cyclohexanone. One tank car leaked 500 gallons of the chemical after derailment before officials secured the car Wednesday night, according to Tempe Fire and Medical Chief Greg Ruiz.

No one was injured by the flames, but fire officials said one person was treated for smoke inhalation.


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