LEWISTON – Police and fire crews went to an area beneath the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge early Friday after a stack of railroad ties was reported up in flames.

A truck driver heading across the bridge at about 1:15 a.m. reported the fire. The first police officer to arrive reported “a very large fire” directly beneath the bridge near the dead end of Libby Avenue. 

Police blocked traffic on one end of the bridge as thick, dark smoke rose from the fire, causing visibility problems for motorists.

They also notified the railroad company that fire crews would be working close to the tracks as they battled the flames. An incoming train was stopped in Danville to avoid riding through the fire scene.

Also called to the area was a fire prevention officer, who was expected to investigate the cause of the blaze once it was brought under control.

Stacks of wooden railroad ties going up in flames has been a problem in that area in recent years. In 2010, railroad ties went up in flames along the tracks near Libby Avenue, and then again in an area behind the Salvation Army. Those fires were declared arson.

Firefighters were still battling the flames at about 2 a.m. Fire officials were expected to advise the Maine Department of Transportation that the underside of the bridge may have been exposed to heat from the blaze.

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