Fire destroys Old Highway 85 bridge

By: 
Alexis Barker

Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

The bridge spanning Beaver Creek below the Dewey cut-across on Old Highway 85 burned down last week. The fire is suspected to have been caused by an abandoned fire.

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

According to Weston County Fire Warden Daniel Tysdal, a suspected abandoned campfire caused a fire that destroyed the bridge spanning Beaver Creek below the Dewey cut-across on Old Highway 85 some time during the night
of May 17 or early morning hours of May 18. 

“It was quarter after 10 a.m. on Monday, the morning of the 18th when we were paged,” Tysdal said. “Multiple resources responded, including the Wyoming State Forestry Division, Black Hills National Forest Fire Division and the Weston County Fire District. The wooden structure over the flood plain — essentially the north part of the bridge — was involved when we got there and collapsed shortly after.” 

The fire spread into the surrounding wildland, Tysdal added, destroying an additional 1.4 acres of grass. 

Currently, Tysdal said, the cause of the fire is under investigation by the Weston County Sheriff’s Department. 

According to reports, the fire happened on the night of Newcastle High School’s graduation, so it is suspected — though not confirmed — that the cause was an abandoned fire from a graduation party.

On May 20, the Weston County Commissioners spent some time discussing the damage, stating that the cost to replace the bridge amounts to at least $2 million. Commissioner Marty Ertman said that the high school students involved would remember the euphemism “burning bridges.” 

 “What a way to go out,” Commissioner Nathan Todd said, noting that the costs for replacement are going to be staggering. 

Ertman said that although the bridge was in poor condition, it was beautiful and one of the oldest in the county. 

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