The fire that damaged the supports of an overbridge on Strouma Motorway near the town of Doupnitsa earlier this week will require partial lane closures for several weeks, Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency said on August 15.
To handle the increased summer traffic on the main road linking capital city Sofia to the Greek border, a popular destination for Bulgarian holidaymakers, the agency has put in place a detour to the E79 national road.
The exact extent of the damage, caused by the fire that broke out on August 13, was not disclosed, but public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) quoted the head of the Interior Ministry’s fire-fighting service Nikolai Nikolov as saying that damage to the supports was likely.
“Temperatures exceeded 400 degrees so the question is whether the heat penetrated inside to cause damage. All the fire-fighting efforts were focused on getting a handle on the fire and cooling the structure in order to save the overbridge. Unfortunately, that resulted in the fire spreading to the forest above Doupnitsa,” Nikolov was quoted as saying.
BNR also quoted Road Infrastructure Agency board member Ivan Dosev saying that the traffic restrictions would be in place “at least two-three weeks”.
The fire was made much worse by the unauthorised large collection of plastic refuse under the overbridge, deposited there by the owner of a nearby depot.
The road agency has already said that it would seek damages from the refuse depot and has referred the case to the prosecutor’s office.
In the meantime, the agency was also conducting checks on all motorways to ensure there were no other such fire hazards. The checks were due to be completed by August 23, BNR reported.
(Bags of refuse seen under the overbridge on Strouma Motorway, screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)