Fire burns wooden bridge on Fairground Street
The Vicksburg Fire Department responded to a fire on Fairground Street around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The fire was on a historic city-owned bridge, located next to Sharp Heating and Air, and was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
Betty Sharp, one of the owners of Sharp Heating and Air, noticed smoke on security cameras and called 911 as she ran from the building.
Multiple units from the Vicksburg Fire Department worked to extinguish the blaze. The bridge is located near a large storage tank of liquid fertilizer, but it was not threatened by the fire.
Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said the fire was started by employees from Sharp Heating and Air who were burning wooden pallets near the bridge. That spread to the bridge and caught it on fire.
The Fairground Street Bridge is listed as the oldest standing bridge in the state. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Mississippi landmark.
Installed in 1895, the bridge provided access to Levee Street from the city’s garden district after railroad tracks were built in the 1800s.
The Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad, which owned the tracks at that time, installed the bridge as part of a deal with the city that allowed the company right-of-way through Vicksburg.
The bridge was closed to traffic in 1995 as unsafe.
Its approach at the intersection of Pearl and Fairground streets is overgrown with trees and other vegetation, and the crumbling structure now crosses over the Kansas City Southern Railroad yard.
An earlier attempt to relocate the bridge to Washington Street near the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi Museum and Interpretive Center to serve as a pedestrian bridge from Washington Street to Levee Street was shelved because of the project’s $4 million estimate.
Mayor George Flaggs in January of 2019 proposed moving it to Washington Street Park and making ita museum with either a kiosk or informational tablets about the bridge, and add a marker identifying it as a National Historic Landmark but the cost was too high.
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