Clouds of smoke billowed above the mouth of the Chicago River on Monday as the Chicago Fire Department fought to extinguish a wooden piling that caught fire beneath the Lake Shore Drive Bridge. Although no injuries were reported, the flames took many hours to extinguish. The blaze started around 10:45 a.m. Monday and wasn’t under control until 3:51 p.m. that afternoon, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
The source of the fire was a construction torch being used by contractors to perform bridge repair work which ignited the waterfront piling, Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Merritt tells Curbed Chicago. Despite the use of land-based crews and fireboats, the pile proved difficult to extinguish due to its flammable creosote coating, Merritt says.
Chicago officials shut down vehicular lanes on Lake Shore Drive’s lower level as well as bike and pedestrian traffic between Illinois and Monroe. The U.S. Coast Guard temporarily diverted river traffic away from the incident.
Although the fire originated near the construction site of the Navy Pier Flyover, Merritt says the work that sparked Monday’s blaze was unrelated to the ongoing project. The Chicago Department of Transportation says the incident will have no impact on the elevated bike and pedestrian path.
LSD Bridge Update: the fire is out and the scene has been turned over to the contractor. No further info at this time.— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) October 7, 2019
A contractor making structural repairs to the LSD Bridge over the Chicago River was using a blow torch, when a fire started. CFD responded quickly and is currently working to extinguish the fire. No workers have been injured and there has been no damage to the bridge. pic.twitter.com/hlwJQXWgLg— Chicago Fire Media (@CFDMedia) October 7, 2019
Firefighters on the Christopher Wheatley fireboat extinguishing a burning piling in the Chicago River near LSD bridge pic.twitter.com/eX4sfppl9p— Jessica Villagomez (@JessicaVillag) October 7, 2019