Charred pieces of a historic covered bridge that burned and fell into a river in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom this weekend were removed Thursday.
On Saturday, the only covered bridge in Troy, which is near the Canadian border, collapsed into the Missisquoi River.
“This bridge meant a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Chief Bobby Jacobs of the Troy Fire Department told NECN and NBC10 Boston as the charred debris was removed Thursday.
Jacobs, who is also the town’s road foreman, called the loss a freak accident, explaining that flames from a malfunctioning snowmobile caught the 111-year old span and set it on fire.
“It’s a shame,” said Bill Sims, who owns property near the Veilleux Road site where the bridge used to sit.
Sims stopped Thursday to check out the work of removing the remnants of the bridge from the water.
Town leaders had worried the wreckage from the River Road Covered Bridge could jam the flow of the Missisquoi, so wanted it out as soon as possible.
“I’ve been in this community all my life and it’s sad to see it go,” said Randy Desrochers, whose family crane business was brought in to do the specialized work required to remove the fallen bridge.
Piece by piece, contractors cut fallen timbers from the ice that had formed around them over the past few days, hoisting them to dumpsters that were filled to the brim.
“It’s like a death in the family almost — almost,” Sims said, referring to how many people from Troy and the surrounding area used to love visiting the bridge for photos or simply to drive across it as a shortcut.
More on the Covered Bridge Fire
A group pushing for a replacement covered bridge has already formed a Facebook group, though local officials say it’s still way too early to know if that will happen or how insurance would factor in.
The entirety of the bridge was not lost. There was a roughly 40-foot section of the River Road Covered Bridge which was not badly burned. The Desrochers crane crew lifted it to a flatbed to haul away and put in storage.
It will be saved, Jacobs explained, in case its historic construction and materials can inspire a new design—or even be incorporated into whatever comes next for the crossing.