A train bridge over the Yakima River caught on fire. Photo by by Brian Stott.

A train bridge over the Yakima River caught on fire. Photo by by Brian Stott.

Railroad Trestle Burns and Collapses

A train bridge over the Yakima River caught on fire. Photo by by Brian Stott.
A train bridge over the Yakima River caught on fire. Photo by by Brian Stott.

Fires fueled by high winds and dry conditions on Labor Day destroyed a number of homes, outbuildings and three railroad bridges throughout Franklin and Benton counties.

One of the most dramatic images from the raging wildfire was the destruction of the Central Washington Railroad trestle between Prosser and Benton City.

The wooden railroad trestle was among the casualties of the fires that burned through the Lower Yakima Valley. The trestle leading to the bridge that spans the Yakima River burned and collapsed Monday night, September 7, 2020.

The devastating event was captured in photos and videos by neighbors and drivers on the Old Inland Empire (OIE) highway, including Brian Stott who farms in the area.

Stott told the Tri-City Herald that he and others were helping lead fire crews to hot spots in the area. He said firefighters were so busy trying to protect homes from burning that they could not fight the trestle fire.

Firefighters don’t know for certain what sparked it, but it may have been connected to sparking power lines in the area, said West Benton Fire Rescue Chief Seth Johnson.

Gusting winds forced embers to jump across the Chandler Canal, the Yakima River and railroad tracks before the fire was finally stopped near Interstate 82. West Benton Fire Rescue reported 80 firefighters fought the blaze.

In total, Johnson expects about 800 acres were scorched, but the wind-driven nature of the fire makes it hard to tell how big the fire was.

Chief Mike Harris with Franklin Fire District 3 said there was nothing normal about Monday’s weather conditions to any longtime Mid-Columbia residents.

Firefighters were assisted by farmers who watered down their fields and used their plows and discs to help clear brush and cut fire breaks.The fiery collapse was captured in photos and videos by Brian Stott who farms in the area.

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