Fire underneath New Jersey bridge contained

August 15, 2014 - 6:05 PM

KEARNY, N.J. (AP) — Construction work on the 82-year-old Pulaski Skyway likely caused a fire at the base of a bridge pillar Friday, sending smoke billowing over the area but not causing any structural damage to the span, a state transportation official said.

Flames engulfed wooden supports that provide a buffer around the base of the pillar and protect it from objects in the water, Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Schapiro said. The fire began at about 1:20 p.m. and was contained by 2 p.m.

Schapiro said sparks created by welding activity on the bridge deck above are believed to have fallen onto dead grass and debris and started the fire. He said there was no damage to the bridge structure and that construction wasn't likely to be delayed as a result of the fire.

The 3.5-mile steel truss bridge crosses the Passaic and Hackensack rivers and connects Newark and Jersey City. It is undergoing a two-year, $1 billion upgrade that requires the detouring of all inbound traffic.

The Pulaski Skyway opened in 1932. It was featured in Orson Welles' 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast and in the opening credits of the television series "The Sopranos."