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Mass. Ave. Bridge reopened with lane restrictions after fire at homeless encampment

An encampment under the Mass. Ave. Bridge caught fire on Thursday.
An encampment under the Mass. Ave. Bridge caught fire on Thursday. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

Commuter traffic was halted Thursday on the busy Mass. Ave. Bridge after mattresses in a homeless encampment beneath the connector between Boston and Cambridge caught fire, dropping debris between lanes on Storrow Drive, officials said.

The blaze started in the morning, sending plumes of smoke over the bridge with State Police confirming the unusual development around 11 a.m. via Twitter. No one was injured.

Troopers said Storrow Drive eastbound at the bridge, and the bridge itself, had closed while authorities investigated. Smoke hung in the air while firefighters responded to the scene.

Storrow reopened about 20 minutes after State Police had announced its closure, but the bridge remained sealed off while officials looked into a key question: Had the late-morning fire harmed the structural integrity of the bridge in any way?

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By Thursday afternoon, the answer appeared to be no, with MassDOT confirming around 1:45 p.m. that all lanes on the bridge had reopened.

“Please note that preliminary reports from bridge inspectors indicate no immediate safety concerns and information continues to be gathered to determine if any future repair work will be necessary,” said Patrick Marvin, a MassDOT spokesman, said via e-mail.

Investigators also determined what touched off the blaze.

“Fire under Mass Ave Bridge believed to have involved mattresses,” State Police tweeted. “Debris fell between east & west lanes of Storrow, which is open.”

In addition to vehicular traffic, the bridge is also popular with cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.