Durban bridge to be assessed after tanker fire

Amanda Khoza and Jeff Wicks, News24

Durban - Tonnes of concrete and debris have fallen from the Sarnia road bridge after thousands of litres of fuel caught fire when two tankers collided on the N2 beneath it early on Tuesday morning.

The freeway will remain closed until engineers have assessed the structural integrity of the bridge. The road closures have caused severe traffic backlogs across the city.

eThekwini Fire and Rescue divisional commander Trevor Stevens said the stability of the bridge remained in question.

“The problem here is that we don’t have any information regarding the stability of the bridge.

“We have had three to four tonnes of concrete and debris that has fallen from the underside of the bridge onto the freeway,” he said.

“What we need to happen now is have the city engineers come and tell us what is going on. They will be able to tell us whether or not we can use the bridge or even open the freeway.

eThekwini municipality spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.

Engineer Eric Bell said that intense heat from the fire would have had an effect on the concrete and steel of the bridge.

“It is a long time for the fire to burn and the heat would have been intense. From a structural aspect – extreme heat will affect the structural rigidity and I would think that the steel may be compromised,” he added.

“If concrete was falling from the underside of the bridge but if it has gotten to that stage – it cannot be good for the structure,” he said.