Fire damages historic bridge in Rome

A fire destroyed part of a historic bridge spanning the Tiber in Rome.

Firefighters said the fire started shortly before midnight on the Industry Bridge near the Ostiense district and was extinguished at 4 a.m. on Sunday.

No one was injured but three nightclubs along the river, a popular neighborhood for young people, were evacuated as a precaution.

The fire is said to have started in a nearby area where homeless people live (Mauro Scrobogna / LaPresse / AP)

The blaze appears to have started in an area of ​​shacks occupied by homeless people on the river bank before spreading to the bridge itself.

Authorities believe the fire may have been started when a cooking gas canister used by one of the homeless exploded.

During the fire, a section of the bridge’s outer pedestrian walkway and a section under the road carrying utility lines ruptured and fell into the Tiber.

Firefighters have said the bridge is currently too dangerous to be used and have also banned all navigation underneath until the span can be repaired.

Bridge light
Firefighters work to put out the flames engulfing the Pont de l’Industrie in Rome (Mauro Scrobogna / LaPresse / AP)

Pope Pius IX attended the inauguration of the bridge in 1863, one of the last major construction works in Rome in the final years of the papal state controlling the city, which would soon become the capital of unified Italy .

It was originally used as a railway bridge before being redeveloped to accommodate cars and pedestrians.

A nearby plaque honors 10 women who were executed on the bridge in 1944 by German SS troops occupying Rome during the last years of World War II.

Women have been punished for occupying a bakery to feed their families amid food shortages.

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