A two alarm fire caused heavy smoke to pour from the Marpole Railroad Bridge, just west of the Oak Street bridge, Wednesday afternoon. The fire appears to have been intentionally set, according to the Vancouver Fire Department.
Fire officials told Global News that people were seen running from the scene of the fire. There are also several logs and pieces of wood stacked against the side of the bridge.
Three fire trucks were dispatched to put out the fire, which had engulfed the wooden trestle portion of the bridge.
WATCH: The wooden trestle caught fire Wednesday during the evening commute
The section of the bridge impacted by the fire is used for limited service, says Canadian Pacific Railway media officer Ed Greenberg, with only one freight train per week travelling across the wooden structure.
Tim Dale was one of hundreds who travelled through the smoke while the bridge was still open.
“Once I hit the smoke it felt like day turned to night,” he said. “It was almost like I was on another planet and there was nobody else around. As the smoke cleared it was like coming back to reality.”
WATCH: Hundreds of cars drove through the thick black smoke covering the Oak Street Bridge this afternoon – including this one. Video by Tim Dale.
The Marpole Bridge, which was constructed in 1902 and is owned by CPR, is a swing span railway bridge that crosses the north arm of the Fraser River and connects Vancouver with Richmond.
The bridge would connect to the Arbutus Rail corridor, which has been a flashpoint of controversy ever since residents were told to clear their belongings off CPR property. But officials are saying that it’s likely not connected.
The neighbouring Oak Street Bridge was closed to traffic due to the heavy smoke but has since reopened.
CPR has engineering experts at the scene and they are inspecting the bridge to assess the damage.
Vancouver police and fire officials are also conducting an investigation and say it could be weeks before any answers are found regarding what caused the fire.
– With files from Justin McElroy and Catherine Urquhart