Wooden Bridge Collapses; Fire Truck Flips

MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A wooden bridge collapsed early Monday morning as firefighters were driving a fire truck over it, sending the truck into a creek.

It happened about 3 a.m. on Pigeon Roost near Warfield.

Warfield Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Alex Alley was driving the truck.

"I never thought when I started to cross that bridge, that I wasn't gonna make it," Alley said. “All I can remember is the hillside as the red lights are beaming off the bushes and water is rushing into the cab."

Firefighter Rhonda Estepp, who's been with the department a year and a half, was in the passenger seat.

“It went in slow motion for me and for Alex, but for the people behind us, they said it seemed like a split second,” Estepp said.

The truck fell about 25 feet. They say the nightmare got even worse after impact.

"About the time I come to, the water started flooding the cab of the engine,” Alley said.

They say the truck formed a dam, and water the truck was hauling was leaking into the creek, causing it to rise even faster while Alley was pinned.

"We were fearful he would drown," Estepp said.

Estepp was able to climb out on her own. A deputy and another firefighter who were also responding to the fire were able to pull Alley out.

"Just thankfully nothing bad happened,” Estepp said. “It could've been a lot worse, definitely. We're very thankful."

The two firefighters in the cab were taken to Three Rivers Hospital in Louisa. Estepp suffered sprains in her neck, back, and arm. Alley had a concussion.

The fire they were responding to turned out to be at an abandoned house. Crews let it burn while they helped with the truck accident.

The fire chief said the road where the accident happened is a county road. A cemetery is located on the other side of the bridge.

A safety officer had already crossed the bridge in his own car before the accident, a Warfield Fire Department spokesman said. Planks were temporarily replaced on the bridge later so he could get back across.

The Warfield Fire Department says they'll be able to call out the Kermit or Inez fire departments for help, if necessary, until they can get that truck replaced.

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