A fire underneath a 1950’s era steel and reinforced concrete railroad lift bridge over the Harlem River in Manhattan caused big problems for New Yorkers today. Here is the latest from the New York Times City Room blog:
The fire that shut down all Metro-North train traffic in and out of Grand Central Terminal was brought under control at 1:35 p.m., officials said. Regular off-peak service has been resumed on all three lines.
The fire broke out at 11:38 a.m. underneath the 138th Street Bridge, which is owned by Metro-North and which carries all three lines. There were no injuries, a spokeswoman said.
Early reports suggested that the fire might have resulted from a blown transformer at the base of the bridge, but officials said they could not yet state the cause.
The blaze occurred on wooden pilings that surround the bridge’s steel footings at the waterline. The wood is intended to protect those footings from inclement weather or runaway water vessels, such as the barges that occasionally float beneath the bridge.
Metro-North service will be back to normal this evening, hours after a fire burning under the 138th street Lift Bridge by the East River temporarily suspended the trains.
New York City Fire Department officials are investigating the cause.
“If the fire gets hot enough, it can melt or substantially alter and affect the steel. It can also affect the conduits, the electric conduits that run underneath it, and that’s what’s being investigated right now,” said FDNY Deputy Chief Paul Mannix.
A man who lives under the bridge with four or five other other people said he heard a huge explosion before the fire began.