Video: Fire from burning pallets spreads, damages historic bridge
Published 3:38 pm Thursday, August 6, 2020
The Vicksburg Fire Department responded to a fire on Fairground Street around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
The fire was on the historic Fairground Street Bridge, located next to Sharpe Heating and Air, and was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
Betty Sharpe, one of the owners of Sharpe’s Heating and Air, noticed smoke on security cameras and called 911.
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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 Sharpe Heating and Air who were burning wooden pallets near the bridge. That spread to the bridge and caught it on fire.
Danczyk said he had discussed the unauthorized burn with the employees of the company, but said it was unlikely there would be any repercussions to the company for the fire.
The 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 it a 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.