Fire at Sakonnet River Bridge ruled arson - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Fire at Sakonnet River Bridge ruled arson

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. -

Cars zoom under the framework for the infrastructure used to operate the tolls set to be put into effect on Monday.  Most of the residents of Aquidneck Island are opposed to the addition of the tolls on the bridge, and at least one took it to an extreme measure when they started a fire near that infrastructure early Saturday morning. 

Portsmouth fire crews responded to extinguish the flames within an hour but Deputy Chief Michael O'Brien has a stern message for whom ever set it.  In a statement on his own behalf, he said "during the 60 minutes that fire companies spent at the scene, the Town of Portsmouth was left without fire or medical coverage. Had a second emergency occurred, response would have been extremely delayed due to this individuals actions."  

Rhode Island State Police Captain Frank B. Castellone echoed his sentiments when he told NBC 10 "you're really putting other people at risk. If there was another incident in the town that needed fire response, it certainly would have been delayed."

Even those who oppose the tolls, like Jim O'Dell, spoke out against this criminal act.  "I don't know where the mindset was of the person that did this, but I think the only way to get your point across is a peaceful protest." 

Jim O'Dell and others are planning a peaceful protest for Sunday evening at 5:00 along the bike path near Anthony Road; for those joining Sunday's peaceful protest Turnpike and Bridge Authority Chairman Dave Darlington issued the following statement "we support the right of civil protest.  We have no tolerance for vandalism and arson, which puts lives in peril.  This act of attempted sabotage is not a victimless form of protest."

The protest is scheduled to begin around 6pm on Sunday on the Portsmouth side of the Sakonnet River Bridge near the new bike path.  

By NBC 10 News Saturday Aug. 17, 2013 3:51pm

A fire at the Sakonnet River Bridge toll station that happened early Saturday morning is being investigated as arson by state fire officials.

NBC 10 has learned that the suspicious electrical fire that broke out just after 1 a.m. on Saturday was set intentionally.

Firefighters from Portsmouth and Tiverton responded to a call that came in for a possible brush fire, however when they arrived on scene they discovered the fire was actually in the toll station.

Police, fire, and members of the Department of Transportation were at the bridge Saturday morning to evaluate the cost of the damage which is still unknown at this time.

RITBA released a statement early this afternoon regarding how the fire has impacted their operations, "a backup system is in place and therefore there will be minimal interruption of the normal operations. Thanks to diligent work by repair crews, the main systems have either been restored or will be within the next several hours."

The statement also went on to say that the tolling on the bridge will continue as planned on Monday, and that even while the fire was active traffic on the bridge was uninterrupted due to the fire only affecting the nearby equipment and not the bridge structure.

This fire comes only a day before a planned protest on the bridge that is set to take place on Sunday. According to the RITBA statement this is an act of vandalism that will be taken very seriously, and the matter has been turned over to the Rhode Island State Police.

In a statement from Portsmouth Deputy Fire Chief Michael O'Brien the danger of this type of crime is reiterated not just at the personal level but at the town level as well. As the Deputy Chief O'Brien points out "during the 60 minutes that the fire companies spent at the scene, the town of Portsmouth was left without fire or medical coverage. Had a second emergency occurred, response would have been extremely delayed due to this individual's actions."

By NBC 10 Aug. 17, 2013 11:45 am

A fire at the Sakonnet River Bridge toll station that happened early Saturday morning is being investigated as arson by state fire officials.

The Portsmouth Patch is reporting that the suspicious electrical fire that broke out just after 1 a.m. on Saturday was set by an arsonist.  

Firefighters from Portsmouth and Tiverton responded to a call that came in for a possible brush fire, however when they arrived on scene they discovered the fire was actually in the toll station.

Police, fire, and members of the Department of Transportation were at the bridge Saturday morning to evaluate the cost of the damage which is still unknown at this time.

This fire comes only a day before a planned protest on the bridge that is set to take place on Sunday.

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