Ambassador Bridge fire stops traffic, international trade
Cause of blaze remains undetermined, as traffic halted on North America's busiest crossing
A pickup truck towing a trailer caught fire on the U.S. side of the Ambassador Bridge as it headed over to Windsor, Ont. from Detroit, Mich., bringing traffic and international trade to a standstill for hours Tuesday afternoon, bridge officials say.
The fire started around noon. It was out before 1 p.m. Smoke could be seen from Windsor, billowing up from the American side.
Detroit's fire and police departments responded to the emergency call.
Traffic was stopped in both directions for a couple of hours.
Shorty after 3 p.m., one lane travelling in each direction was reopened, according to the Windsor Police Service.
Company officials were working with fire crews to ensure the bridge's structure and pavement were not damaged before reopening to traffic, said Stan Korosec, the director of Canadian government relations and security for the Canadian Transit Company, a subsidiary of the Ambassador Bridge Company.
"The challenge of this one was the intensity of the fire, it engulfed the truck and the camper very quickly, apparently the driver had just filled up with fuel as well, so all that put together caused for quite a bit of damage," Korosec said.
The fire caught the attention on both sides of the border.
"Anytime you have any incident on a busy international crossing such as ours, a lot of people take notice," Korosec said.
"It doesn't take long to have Ottawa and Washington on the phone just to find out what's going on and make sure it's no intentional act, and, in this case, it wasn't."
Transport trucks stretched kilometres down Huron Church Road in Windsor to Highway 401 in Lakeshore, Ont.
Truckers got out of their cabs and passed the time chatting on the boulevard.
The Ambassador Bridge is North America's busiest border crossing and it's a commercial lifeline for many manufacturers in southwestern Ontario and the U.S. Midwest.
The bridge connecting Windsor and Detroit carries one-quarter of all trade between Canada and the United States.
In 2010, a reported 28,814 trucks crossed the privately-owned bridge daily, with a trade value of almost $500 million U.S.