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Portion of Tempe Town Lake bridge demolished after train derailment

PHOENIX — A portion of the Tempe Town Lake bridge was demolished early Sunday morning after being damaged Wednesday in a fiery train derailment.

The demolition took place just before 8:15 a.m. as a few flashes appeared from the bridge followed by a loud bang and smoke coming from the area that tumbled to the ground.

“Everyone came together to make this operation a success,” Clint Schelbitzki of Union Pacific Railroad said in a press conference after the demolition.

Assistant Tempe Fire Chief Andrea Glass told ABC15 small precision cutting charges were used around the 150-foot damaged section of the bridge on the south side of Tempe Town Lake.

Schelbitzki said clearing operations will begin Sunday so that bridge construction can be prepared, adding the demolished portion of the bridge will likely be cut into smaller pieces so it can be removed.

Schelbitzki said there is still residue in the train cars that will also be removed Sunday.

He added there is no timeline on when the bridge will be reconstructed.

Glass in the press conference said there is not a date on when Tempe Town Lake would reopen, but did say they should have a better idea in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The incident took place around 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday when a Union Pacific train derailed and smashed through part of a bridge.

Eight to 10 of the cars carrying lumber and tankers caught fire, sending black smoke high into the sky.

Rail cars fell through a gap of the bridge that had collapsed in the incident and landed in a park, which was empty.

Several Valley fire departments battled the blaze as Loop 202 was closed for about five hours in both directions between State Route 143 and Loop 101.

There were no injuries, but one person was treated for smoke inhalation, a Union Pacific spokesman told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email on Wednesday.

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir said in a press conference on Thursday there was no evidence of criminal activity.

Schelbitzki said Sunday it doesn’t appear additional sections of the 108-year-old bridge will need to be altered or removed.

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