Oil Barge Catches Fire After Colliding With Bridge on Mississippi River

A barge carrying crude oil erupted into flames and drifted about 12 miles down the Mississippi River Thursday night after striking a railroad bridge.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said there were no injuries and no reports of crewmen in the water after the 9 p.m. accident.

The flaming barge, one of four carrying the oil, was corralled and pushed against the riverbank around 11:30 p.m. downstream from Vicksburg, Coast Guard officials and area authorities said. Another vessel was fighting the fire. The other three barges were quickly pushed to the river bank by local boats.

It was unclear whether oil has spilled into the river, law enforcement said, but environmental officials from Mississippi and Louisiana were on the scene assessing the situation.

Authorities closed the railroad bridge and the Interstate 20 bridge that crosses the river at the same point, but have since reopened I-20.

"Everyone is safe, which is the most important thing," Sheriff Martin Pace said. "The barge that is ablaze will burn itself out and (the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality) and the Coast Guard will make their assessment from an environmental impact standpoint. But a lot of that will have to be done in the light of day."

The barges are owned by Florida Marine, authorities said.