Rome’s Ponte di Ferro bridge goes up in flames

Rome risks traffic chaos after bridge gutted by fire the night before Romans vote for a new mayor.

Rome’s Ponte dell’Industria – better known as Ponte di Ferro – was partially destroyed in a massive fire on Saturday night.

The iconic metal bridge, which dates to 1863, went up in flames just before midnight, leading to some external sections of the structure collapsing into the river Tiber.

An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire which may have originated from makeshift shacks under the 158-year-old bridge, and involved electric and gas pipelines.

There was nobody injured in the fire, whose flames and smoke could be seen from from away – against the dramatic backdrop of the Gazometro – until firefighters managed to get the blaze under control.

Ponte di Ferro on fire. Photo La Repubblica.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that in addition to a large amount of rubbish under the bridge, gas cylinders were found, used by homeless people living there.

The fire led to surrounding areas being left without gas, electricity and water last night as Rome risks traffic chaos without the busy link between the Ostiense and Marconi / Portuense districts.

The fire took place on the eve before Rome goes to the polls to elect a new mayor in local elections.

Ponte di Ferro in flames. Photo Fanpage.

Last night the city’s outgoing mayor Virginia Raggi arrived at the scene, saying: “It is heartbreaking to see a piece of history reduced to this” adding: “the important thing is that there is nobody injured.”

History of Ponte di ferro

The 130m-long bridge was built between 1862 and 1863 by a Belgian company to link the railway line of Civitavecchia to Roma Termini railway station.

The structural work was completed in England, with the bridge moved in sections to Rome where it was mounted.

In 1911, with the opening of the new station of Trastevere, the railway line was moved to the new Ponte S. Paolo, further upstream. Cover photo RomaToday