PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – An investigation into the fire that shut down the Liberty Bridge last year has uncovered some troubling findings.
Newly uncovered documents show critical mistakes were made in the days and hours leading up to the fire.
Our news partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette obtained the documents from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The fire happened in the midst of an $80 million rehab project that nearly caused the Liberty Bridge to collapse.
The Post-Gazette says the OSHA documents showed there were two minor fires in the three days before the big one.
“Often times minor things lead to major things and we could have learned from that and perhaps prevented the situation,” PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cessna said.
However, safety officials from the prime contractor on the project, the Joseph B. Fay Company, never reported the fires to their supervisors or PennDOT.
Thursday morning, the contractor issued the following statement:
“Individual OSHA interviews are a portion of an investigation and need to be taken in context with all the findings. The final determination was based on the entirety of information collected and verified by the compliance officer.”
It went on to say:
“The OSHA investigation is closed. The bridge was reopened and safe to traffic months ago and not one person was injured during the entire incident. Modifications have been made to procedures to assure no future situations occur.”
An employee was assigned to watch the lower deck for fires.
On the day of the big fire, that worker was reassigned by a supervisor, who said he didn’t know those two minor fires had happened.
Joseph B. Fay paid a reduced $7,500 OSHA fine for safety violations at the site.
PennDOT also fined the company for the time the bridge was closed for repairs.