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Balboa Park's Laurel Street Bridge closed after fire sparks inside bridge

Posted at 11:49 PM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-06 09:15:42-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Laurel Street Bridge at Balboa Park was closed late Friday after a fire started inside the bridge.

At around 7:30 p.m., Park Rangers called the San Diego Fire Department after seeing smoke coming out of the side of the 105-year-old bridge.

The closure caused great inconvenience for Old Globe Theater patrons trying to get to and out of Friday night's show. Season ticket holders Kenny Ard and Brian Moore barely made it to the theater, before the bridge was closed off by emergency responders.

Witnesses saw firefighters carefully try to suppress the flames by opening the manholes on the road.

“We kind of rushed when we saw the fire truck," Moore said. “I was like, I bet they’re going to close the bridge. So we hurried and made sure we got here.“

San Diego Fire Fighters said the fire broke out inside of the hollow bridge. They have not announced the cause of the flames. However, this scene was all too familiar. Since its construction in 1914, the Laurel Street Bridge has caught fire several times. Many of the fires were started by transients who end up living inside the bridge.

In 2017, several homeless people were rescued from inside a utility hole on the bridge.

“There are access panels at the base and some on the sides, and so people get in there,” Moore said.

While Are and Moore were able to avoid the jam getting to the show, they were not so lucky finding their way home.

“My car is parked right on the other side of the bridge,” And said. “We’re going to have to take a Lyft because it’s a long way around.”

The bridge had reopened by Saturday morning.