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Car catches fire on Elizabeth Bridge

| Friday, June 20, 2014, 3:46 a.m.
Courtesy Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Company
Elizabeth firefighter Kevin Tennant and Lieutenant 2 Jonny Furst extinguish a car fire that blocked southbound traffic briefly Thursday afternoon on the Elizabeth Bridge.

No injuries were reported when the engine of a car caught fire on Thursday afternoon in the southbound lanes of the Elizabeth Bridge.

“It was contained to the engine compartment of the car,” Elizabeth Fire Chief Chad Rager said.

Rager's volunteers responded shortly after 1:30 p.m. to the bridge carrying Route 51 over the Monongahela River between West Elizabeth and Elizabeth.

“The southbound lanes were shut down because of the heavy smoke,” Rager said. “We kept the northbound lanes open.”

Elizabeth firefighters quickly extinguished the engine blaze and the span officially known as the Regis R. Malady Bridge was open again to traffic by 2:30.

Elizabeth police and Elizabeth Township Area EMS crews responded, while Jefferson Hills police offered assistance on the West Elizabeth side of the bridge.

“(Traffic) was backed up all the way into Jefferson Hills over the Large hill,” Rager said.

The bridge remains one of the busiest in Allegheny County, despite last year's weight posting that limited vehicles to no more than 32 tons for trucks and 40 tons for combinations.

Prior to the posting the average daily volume was 14,036 vehicles including 1,123 trucks. A detour required by the posting via Clairton, Glassport and downtown Elizabeth may have taken 600 trucks off the Elizabeth Bridge.

PennDOT's Pittsburgh area spokesman said the fire did not affect the bridge.

“Our bridge crew checked it out,” PennDOT District 11's Steve Cowan said. “There was no damage to the bridge at all.”

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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