Firefighters battle nighttime fire at the Chenaux bridge

·2 min read

Horton Township -- Highway 653 (Chenaux Road) between the intersection of Queens Line/Storyland Road and Portage-du-Fort, Quebec, was closed for several hours Tuesday morning as Horton Township firefighters fought a blaze 60 to 70 feet above the Ottawa River while standing on scaffolding beneath the Chenaux Bridge on the Ontario side of the river.

Horton Fire Chief Allan Cole said a call came in for a fire on the interprovincial bridge where construction is happening at about 4 a.m. Firefighters from Horton and Bristol/Portage-du-Fort responded as well as the OPP and Surete du Quebec, and County of Renfrew paramedics, he said. Each side provided their own traffic control.

“The bridge wasn’t on fire, but the scaffolding under the bridge was,” he said. “We battled the blaze and had a good, quick knockdown.

“There was limited damage to the scaffolding and some machinery was damaged.”

To fight the fire, Chief Cole said firefighters climbed down the ladder that was hanging over the bridge to get onto the scaffolding, which runs the full length of the bridge. Since it was just a section of the scaffolding that was on fire, they were able to fight the blaze while standing on the scaffold.

“The scaffolding is very secure and safe,” he said. “There were no concerns as far as the quality of the scaffolding.”

It was an interesting fire to fight, he said.

“It took a bit of thinking to figure it out,” Chief Cole said. “We developed a plan.”

By 6:30 a.m. the department was preparing to hand the scene over to the contractor when the Ministry of Transportation of Quebec attended the scene, noting it was not yet safe to open the bridge to traffic.

“We aren’t bridge engineers,” Chief Cole said, adding the bridge remained closed until an engineer from the Quebec Ministry of Transporation was able to inspect it and confirm no structural damage had occurred.

About 15 Horton firefighters, two pumpers, a tanker and utility were on scene, while Portage responded with a truck and several firefighters.

The bridge reopened to traffic at 9:30 a.m.

Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader