RUNNELS COUNTY – Fire totally destroyed the historic 12 Mile Bridge in Runnels County Sunday, officials with the Ballinger Fire Department reported. Firefighters returned Monday to put out hot spots at the bridge.

RUNNELS COUNTY – Fire totally destroyed the historic 12 Mile Bridge in Runnels County Sunday, officials with the Ballinger Fire Department reported. Firefighters returned Monday to put out hot spots at the bridge.

Runnels County Sheriff Carl Squyres said that arson is suspected and that an arson investigator with the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office will be in Tuesday to inspect the scene.

“We could not tell if the fire actually started on the bridge or in the grass next to it,” Squyres said.

Ballinger firefighters responded to the burning of a historic bridge Sunday morning at 9:20 a.m. after the first call came in. When they arrived, the bridge was blazing. They arrived on the scene at 9:45 a.m. and left at 1:47 p.m.

“It was almost gone when we got there,” said Assistant Fire Chief Brent Allen. “The road bed was all timber and it was completely gone.”

Ballinger Fire Department was the only agency to respond to the fire. In all there were six vehicles on the scene, which used 7,100 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.

When the firefighters arrived on scene, they realized it was the old 12-Mile Bridge, a historic wooden and steel structure that crosses the Colorado River alongside a modern bridge at County Road 129.

While there was no historic marker at the bridge, it has been deemed historic due to the nostalgia it evokes. It has not been in service for vehicles for at least 20 years, officials have said. But it was used as a walking bridge.