Smith County Bridge Burns

A Smith County bridge went up in flames sometime early this morning.   Whitehouse firefighters responded to the call around 3:30 AM. The bridge is on County Road 113. That's between Bullard and Whitehouse.   A Smith County Fire Marshal believes it was deliberately set, and county officials say it's going to be expensive to rebuild.

This two lane bridge is now a pile of ashes.

"It was rebuilt about 4 years ago so it wasn't particularly old," say Bill Bala, Smith County Engineer.

He says just yesterday workers were repairing the bridge, but this morning all that work was gone.  Now, Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal, Marilynn Wilson is investigating the arson.

"From what I can tell so far, it looks like we have at least 125 to 130 foot pour pattern of gasoline on both sides of the bridge and across the bridge which is burned," says Wilson.

After walking around the area she found some cans.

"I found about 15 aerosol cans that indicates someone was huffing paint," says Wilson.

She also found a gas can tossed in the ditch.

"Whoever did this was high on huffing paint and then for kicks decided to burn the bridge," says Wilson.

On one side of the bridge, a fireworks container.

"It had probably about 12 different type of little launching tubes," says Wilson.

"They were having a good time whatever they were doing. It is a good thing that no one came along and tried to drive across it because the bridge is completely gone," says Bala.

Bala says when the county rebuilds the bridge it will be with concrete, not wood.

"This thing will be closed down for about 6 months and it will have to be completely rebuilt," says Bala.

Bala says building a new bridge will easily exceed $100,000.

Fire investigators believe they're looking for a low- riding vehicle because of the scuff marks on the asphalt.

Now, officials are asking folks who use CR 113 to take alternate routes. They're suggesting FM 346 to the North or FM 344 to the South.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.