Information Bulletin Number 0805211

U.S. Fire Administration Releases Report on I-35W
Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis
EMMITSBURG, MD – The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announces the release of the Interstate 35W
(I-35W) Bridge Collapse and Response Technical Report (PDF, 1.9 Mb). The report examines the area's emergency
preparedness for, and response to, the August 1, 2007 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota that killed 13 people
and injured 121 others.
“To the nation's firefighters, collapse of structure is something for which they all plan and prepare. The uniqueness
of this bridge collapse, and the challenges faced by firefighters and their command staffs, offers an opportunity for
firefighters across this nation to learn from the Minnesota response to this event. As a result, firefighters continue
their efforts to prepare for any and all emergencies nationwide,” said United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade.
Just after 6 p.m. on the evening of August 1, 2007, the 40-year old bridge collapsed into the river and its banks
without warning. At the time, there were approximately 120 vehicles carrying 160 people on the bridge. The impact
of the fall broke the span into multiple planes of broken steel and crushed concrete. Cars, buses, and trucks – all
resting precariously along guardrails or suddenly unprotected edges – crashed into other vehicles, partially embedded
in the muddy river bank, or dropped precipitously into the river.
The local response to the bridge disaster — and the coordination with metro, State, and Federal partners —
demonstrated the extraordinary value of comprehensive disaster planning and training. The city's ability to respond
had evolved over several years of investing heavily and widely in all the elements that make a crucial difference when
disaster strikes. Their investment covered widespread training on the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
that extended beyond city department heads and into all employee levels. Over half of the city's 4,000 employees
have received NIMS training.
Download Interstate 35W (I-35W) Bridge Collapse and Response Technical Report (PDF, 1.9 Mb)
USFA develops reports on selected major fires and events throughout the country. These emergencies usually involve
multiple deaths or a large loss of property, but the primary criterion for deciding to write a report is whether it will
result in significant “lessons learned.” In some cases, special reports are developed to discuss events, drills, or new
technologies or tactics that are of interest to the fire service.
To order or download other USFA technical reports, please visit the USFA Web site at and select
the link Order Publications.