Highway engineers are still trying to assess the damage caused by a fire in a vault under the 101 Freeway’s Ventura River Bridge.
The blaze was discovered just before 8 a.m. Friday, when smoke began to appear from under the bridge. Ventura firefighters found that a blaze was running through a thousand foot long vault which is directly under the concrete. The vault is two and a half feet tall, and seven feet wide, and carriers utility lines across the river.
Firefighters believe vagrants used it as a storage place for their belonging, and that something in those items started, and fueled the fire. Because it is a confined space, firefighters had a tough time fighting it, and complicating the situation was the presence of high voltage power lines. The heat was so intense, it was melting the asphalt above the vault.
Firefighters knocked down the blaze in about two and a half hours, but it was too hot for engineers to get in to assess the damage. No freeway lanes are closed, but one of the shoulders was coned off so its safety can be fully assessed.