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Bay Bridge Reopens After Fire

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Bay Bridge fire
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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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KENT ISLAND, Md. (WJZ) — Smoke was visible for miles. A truck fire on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge ground traffic to a halt during a busy spring weekend.

Mike Hellgren has the latest on how that fire started.

They didn’t get the eastbound spans open just after 5 a.m. Monday,  just before the morning rush hour. That truck was hauling mulch, which thankfully didn’t catch fire. No one was injured.

A truck fire shut down the eastbound span of the Bay Bridge for almost 11 hours. Brakes overheated.

Swen Thompson was one of many caught in the backup.

“It wasn’t moving so I sat here for about an hour. I don’t know about the travelers that go to the beach for a week and they get stuck in it for hours and hours. It’s horrible,” said Swen Thompson, driver.

Crews repaired damage to the pavement and inspectors found the bridge structurally safe just days before the busy Memorial Day weekend gets underway.

“You go by and there’s miles and miles of backup and it does scare you. We got caught in the one where the truck went off of the bridge a couple years ago and that was nasty,” said Sharon Geiger, driver.

According to the MdTA’s numbers, you’re four times safer crossing the Bay Bridge when it comes to car accidents than the typical Maryland roadway.

Last year, two crashes captured the most attention. In one, high winds slammed a big rig into the barrier wall like a toy. Then, in July, a woman swam to safety after police say an inattentive trucker pushed her car over the side, where it plunged more than 20 feet into the water.

“I got one good scream in and after that scream, the car hit the water,” said Morgan Lake.

An image shows the hot spots for crashes. The state has pumped half a million dollars into safety upgrades in recent months.

“It’s not just going to happen on the Bay Bridge; it’s gonna happen on 95, it’s gonna happen on 450. There’s accidents everywhere,” said Thompson.

Among the recent improvements are new signs. If you’re involved in an accident on the Bay Bridge, you were most likely hit from behind. That’s the case for two out of three accidents here.

The Bay Bridge handles more than 25 million cars and trucks every year.

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