Fire damages 19th century ‘iron bridge’ in Rome

ROME (Reuters) – A massive fire on Saturday night severely damaged Rome’s famous “iron bridge”, parts of the 19th-century structure plunging into the Tiber.

The bridge, inaugurated in 1863 and officially named Ponte dell ‘Industria (Industrial Bridge), connects the densely populated districts of Ostiense and Portuense.

The fire broke out on the eve of the elections for the next mayor, whose main problem was the general deterioration of infrastructure and public services in the Italian capital.

The Romans call the 131-meter (143-yard) long bridge “Ponte di Ferro” (iron bridge), because most other bridges in Rome are made of stone.

Officials said there were no injuries in the blaze, which was visible from afar as the flames raced up into the night sky.

Media have indicated that this could have been triggered by a short circuit in shacks below the bridge. Firefighters said the blaze, which had extinguished overnight, was fueled by a damaged gas line.

The surrounding areas were left without power for several hours.

The bridge, used for heavy traffic between the two neighborhoods, has been closed indefinitely pending security checks.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Philip Pullella and Frances Kerry)

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