A glow in the night at Ostiense district. The Bridge of Industry – ‘Iron Bridge ‘ the Romans call it – it is on fire. In the background, in the gray smoke sky, the ghostly silhouette of the Gazometro stands out, another monument of industrial archeology that defines one of the capital’s nightlife areas. The fire would have started from the homeless camps under the bridge, in the middle of the brushwood, on one of the banks of the Tiber. But the track of a short circuit in the electricity network is not excluded. The hypothesis of malice does not appear in the field. No person involved, but enormous damage to the structure, declared unusable, blackout and heavy consequences on traffic: the work is a nerve center that connects two populous neighborhoods, Ostiense and Marconi.
Fire in Rome, fear in Ostiense: fire in Ponte dell’Industria. Collapses and isolated neighborhood
Rome, Iron Bridge in flames: what happened
It seems like a Saturday evening like so many in the mild Roman October; crowded the premises near the bridge; there is also a street food festival stormed by patrons. Around 10.30 pm the alarm goes off that, in the era of mobile phones and social networks, spreads in a flash throughout the city in the form of photographs and videos shot by the hundreds of people who were nearby and portraying a scene from a film: the characteristic metal bridge engulfed in flames. But it is not fiction. Immediate intervention by the fire brigade (the Ostiense Detachment of the Corps is located a few meters away) with six teams, including divers and the Nbcr (Nuclear Biological Chemical Radiological) nucleus. The problem is that in the side walkways of the bridge – one has collapsed – electric and gas pipes ran which made it more difficult to shut down. Italgas points out that its pipelines “have not suffered damage from the fire nor have they powered it”.
After a couple of hours, around half past midnight, the fire had been put out. The first analyzes and the testimonies collected would seem to trace the origin of the fire to the shacks that are located right under one of the ends of the bridge, in the midst of dry vegetation that favored the spread of the fire. One of the many makeshift settlements in the city, inhabited mainly by homeless people from Eastern Europe. Already in February 2013 a fire of smaller proportions had developed from the same shacks that are periodically cleared and repopulated.
A small stove could have started the stake. “We need to clean up on the banks of the Tiber, remove settlements and undergrowth”, ask some citizens who live in the area, recalling that “it is not the first time that fires start from there and it will not be the last if everything remains in a state of neglect” . Some condominiums in a building on the Ostiense bank say they heard «an explosion, the smell of burnt rubber and gas. The light went out immediately and we went out onto the street ».
«They also heard – says another – cries for help coming from the camps along the Tiber then we saw the flames. Little by little we saw the stake grow and envelop the bridge ». The Carabinieri carried out inspections in the settlements. The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome is awaiting initial information and then proceeding with the formal opening of the investigation file which will have to ascertain the origin of the fire. The Iron Bridge was built between 1862 and 1863 to connect the Civitavecchia railway line to the Termini central station.
Fire in Rome, investigations begin: checks on the camps under the “Iron Bridge”
131 meters long and 7.25 meters wide, it is made up of iron and cast iron arches resting on pillars made of cast iron pipes filled with concrete. Now the technicians will verify the damage suffered by the work, which has been forbidden to traffic, such as the underlying cycle path and a stretch of the Tiber that passes under the structure. Even months could pass before the reopening, with serious consequences on city traffic. The fire, just on the eve of the vote for the election of the mayor of Rome, has further heated up the controversy despite the electoral silence.
Virginia Raggi already in the evening went to the place. “It is heartbreaking to see a piece of history reduced to this”, his words. «We await the outcome of the investigation. I do not give up. I love Rome », added the mayor in the morning, outside the polling station where she voted. “Rome in decay thanks to the Rays junta”, the leader of FdI, Giorgia Meloni, attacked on twitter. The Forza Italia deputy Sestino Giacomoni is also tough: “the Rays for the Romans is worse than Nero”. For Maurizio Gasparri (Fi), last night’s was «the last chapter of the disaster and the abandonment of Rome in the Rays era». In defense of the mayor, M5S takes sides. Deputy Marco Di Bella announced a question to the Minister of the Interior “also to silence the suspicions that are read online about this coincidence, a disaster that took place a few hours after the opening of the polls. Suspicions that become even more worrying if some rumors are confirmed that speak of an unusual dynamic of how the fire started “