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Three rescued from river after bridge collapses in Washington

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A portion of an interstate bridge running over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday, sending at least two cars into the river below. (Source: KOMO/CNN) A portion of an interstate bridge running over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday, sending at least two cars into the river below. (Source: KOMO/CNN)
Rescue boats worked to pull passengers from the river. (Source: KOMO/CNN) Rescue boats worked to pull passengers from the river. (Source: KOMO/CNN)
(Source: KOMO/CNN) (Source: KOMO/CNN)

MOUNT VERNON, WA (RNN) - A portion of a bridge in Washington collapsed Thursday, sending at least two cars into the river below. 

The bridge runs over the Skagit River on Interstate 5 in Mount Vernon and reportedly collapsed around 7 p.m. PST. 

KING 5 News reports three people were pulled from the river. At least two had been taken to a local hospital.

Rescue efforts discontinued late Thursday after everyone has been apparently found, according to Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state confirmed that no fatalities resulted from the bridge collapse.

"I want to thank the U.S. Border Patrol, our State Patrol and local fire, police and other emergency personnel who participated in a very successful rescue effort," he said. "Our hearts are with those who have been injured and we hope to hear good news soon of their speedy recovery."

A photo from the scene showed a man sitting on top of his car, which was partially submerged. Video showed what appeared to be a tractor-trailer also submerged.

Dan Sligh described to KIRO what it was like to be on the collapsing bridge.

"When the dust hit, I saw the bridge start to fall at that point forward momentum just carried us right over," he said. "As you saw the water approaching, it was just one of those you hold on to things as tight as you can, just a white flash and cold water. Skagit is definitely cold at this time of the year."

Traffic in the area was redirected, and authorities encouraged people to avoid the area.

"The bridge was built, I believe, in the '50s, so it is fairly old. They are inspected on a regular schedule," Bart Treece, with the Washington State Department of Transportation, told KING 5. 

"It was fairly recent that the bridge was inspected," he said. "We are pulling the inspection records right now."

The Washington State Department of Transportation said the cause of the bridge collapse is still under investigation. A witness told KING 5 that he saw a truck hit a portion of the bridge before the collapse.

"I saw girders falling in my rearview mirror," said Dale Ogden, a truck driver for more than 25 years.

Inslee stated that the cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board will send a team to investigate Friday. The Washington State Patrol called for witnesses to the collapse on its Twitter account Thursday night.

According to the website www.nationalbridges.com, the bridge was built in 1955. Its structural evaluation was deemed "somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is."

The Washington Department of Transportation reported that 77,000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

The DOT secretary emphasized the need for budgetary resources to help her department better address bridge safety.

"We make sure that we inspect all these bridges, and we repair damage as soon as possible," Secretary Lynn Peterson said. "And we definitely are in need of maintenance all across the great state of Washington, whether it be a local bridge or a state bridge. But we are at this point where we need to make a decision about how to move forward with revenue to be able to keep up and maintain our bridges and our roads."

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