A wind-driven fire that destroyed the Ranchero Road bridge overnight in the Cajon Pass also hindered efforts to clear out the collapsed structure and reopen the vital California-Nevada link, officials said at a briefing Tuesday.
Construction crews were using tractors and bulldozers to tear down the Ranchero Road overpass, even as it continued to burn into the night. The blaze, reported around 1:30 p.m. Monday, was sparked by workers cutting reinforced steel bars with torches, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
"As you can see … we have a lot of work to do to restore traffic," Ray Wolfe, director of the San Bernardino Associated Governments, said. "We did not know the Herculean efforts that fell before us. We were not able to get as far as we thought."
The Ranchero Road bridge was "designed to stand, not fall," he added.
Transportation officials said it will likely be at least another day before the highway through Hesperia – a main link between Southern California and Las Vegas – is fully reopened.
Crews will have to disassemble the bridge chunk by chunk and extinguish flames as they go along, said San Bernardino County Division Chief Britt Sipe.
Despite the impeded progress due to the wind,
The southbound lanes could be reopened Wednesday morning, he added.