Local firefighters are keeping an eye on a wooden train bridge that crosses the Mokelumne River just east of Lodi and is similar to one that went up in flames last week in Sacramento.
East of Guild Road, the trestle, which is owned by the Central California Traction Company, is about 100 feet long with wooden and cement supports. The March 15 fire in Sacramento occurred on 300 feet of a Union Pacific-owned trestle over the American River.
Though the CCT does not use the bridge in Lodi, it is inspected every month, according to CCT General Manager Dave Buccolo. He said he is not worried about the 100-year-old bridge catching fire.
"That could happen to any wooden structure," he said. "We don't really worry about it too much."
The Mokelumne Rural Fire Protection District is aware of the CCT trestle and inspects it from time to time, according to Captain Rob Firman.
Source: Union Pacific
"We make periodic runs down there," Firman said, adding that the Sacramento fire was a realization that a similar fire could happen in Lodi.
Like the Union Pacific trestle, the CCT bridge is soaked in creosote, a wood preservative. Buccolo said creosote is used to keep the railroad ties and supports from rotting and is not a flammable substance.
"It takes a lot to get a trestle fire started," he said adding that he suspects an arsonist caused the Sacramento fire.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation and Union Pacific is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in connection with the fire, Union Pacific spokesman James Barnes said in a statement. A project to replace the torched trestle with steel is three quarters of the way complete and is on schedule for re-opening April 1, Barnes said.
"The trestle is a vital lifeline to the Sacramento and California economies, and immediate replacement is necessary to resume normal passenger and freight operations in the region," he said.
A pile of discarded railroad ties sits next to the CCT track in Lodi, a potential fire hazard according to Woodbridge Rural Fire Protection District Chief Mike Kirkle.
"There's a potential hazard when you have a large pile of wood," he said.