Buckeye officials warn of SR85 bridge danger

Video from a few days ago showed a quick moving wildfire that jumped the freeway, burning several vehicles.

It was a nightmare scenario straight out of a Hollywood movie, only this was reality.

Buckeye Fire's chief worries the same thing could happen on state Route 85, too many salt cedar trees, or ammunition for a fast moving fire.

Salt cedars grow fast, they are like a sponge, and they are totally clogging up this part of the lower Gila River.

"The salt cedars are taller than the bridge, and they grow underneath it, they produce heat if they burn, cause moisture in the concrete which turns to steam, that will heat up the metal and render the bridge useless," said Bob Costello, Buckeye Fire Chief.

In other words the bridge could collapse, be the scene of a catastrophic fire, or trap floodwaters which would threaten nearby homes.

"The fire and/or flood like in California can happen here, we need a state of emergency to get the bridge cleaned out, to get the water to run on both sides hopefully," said Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck. 

Cleaning up the 18 miles of overgrowth along the lower Gila won't be cheap.

"Probably 150 to 300 million dollars is the estimate, and those numbers are for buying the property, I don't know, we have to buy the property," said Meck.
 

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