Cause of Taylor Bridge Fire centers on construction site

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The cause of the Taylor Bridge Fire has centered around a construction project on the bridge (hence the fire’s name), but investigators still haven’t specified what they believe caused the fire.

KIRO 7 visited the bridge Monday and found a construction crew at work there. The regional supervisor for the Washington State Department of Transportation said that shouldn’t be a surprise. While the fire still rages, the contractor on the project went back to work last week after a review by the Department of Natural Resources.

“The day after, within about 12 hours, DNR was there as part of their investigation,” WSDOT’s Don Whitehouse said. “They talked to our contractor, reviewed their operation and allowed them to continue work.”

Fire investigators’ yellow tape marks the spot where the fire started. It’s right underneath Taylor Bridge.

The question remaining is what exactly caused it.

At first, there was speculation that sparks from a train passing below the bridge might be to blame. Now, there’s unconfirmed talk it was perhaps a welder’s torch.

By chance, KIRO 7 ran into the state inspector who dialed 911 when the fire first broke out:

Essex Porter (KIRO 7): "Were you here when it started?"
Inspector: "Yeah."
Porter: "Did you see how?"
Inspector: "It’s still under investigation. I can’t talk."

“Under active investigation” is all the DNR would say, as well. It agency said it still has documentation and materials to review.

DNR did tell KIRO 7 that the contractor, Conway Construction, agreed to voluntary restrictions on its continuing work, including no open flames.

One more thing KIRO 7 asked was whether a water truck should have been present during the construction that was going on last Monday, when the fire broke out. DNR sets those rules, and it said a water truck wasn't required under the fire conditions at the time.