Social organizations weren’t the only ones to deal with fires in 2019 in Parker. Perhaps the most spectacular fire of the year occurred late in the evening of Sept. 14 and the early morning of Sept. 15, when the southern end of the Arizona & California Railroad’s bridge in Parker caught fire.

Remarkably, the railroad had the bridge repaired and reopened by the following Saturday, Sept. 21.

The bridge caught fire sometime around 10:45 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14. The fire burned on the southern end of the bridge, near the entrance to Bluewater Lagoon. The bridge deck and pilings both burned, and vegetation along the Colorado River burned as well.

At noon on Sunday, Sept. 15, fire crews remained on the scene. Small flames could still be seen.

Buckskin Fire Chief Troy Maloney said the brush fire along the river and the fire on the wooden support structures on the approach to the bridge were quickly put out. However firefighters couldn’t reach the fire on the metal sections of the bridge with their water streams. Firefighters used chainsaws to remove wooden ties and create a fire break.

Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services spokesperson Michael Williams told the Pioneer the railroad was already mobilizing contractors Sunday afternoon to begin work on repairing the bridge. Genesee & Wyoming is the parent company of the A & C.

Williams said the bridge did not suffer much structural damage in the fire. He said most of the damage was from charring. The railroad had to remove warped rail and burned ties.

As nearly all of the A & C’s customers are located east of Parker, Williams said the A & C would be serving them from the eastern terminal of the railroad at Matthie, Ariz., near Wickenburg.

The bridge reopened on Sept. 21, less than a week after the fire. One of the first trains across the bridge was a seemingly endless Burlington Northern-Santa Fe container train. The train was so long, it required extra locomotives in the middle to provide adequate motive power.

Williams said it was remarkable the crews got the bridge reopened so quickly.

The bridge was built in 1908 as part of a line from Matthie to Cadiz, Calif. It was operated by the Santa Fe, which is now BN-SF. The A & C came into existence in 1991 to take over operations of the line.

The A & C’s biggest shipper is Rose Acre Farms’ Lone Cactus Egg Farm near Bouse.

Genesee & Wyoming operates 120 shortline railroads in the United States, Canada and Australia. Their headquarters is in Darien, Conn.

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