Fire department douses Cermak Road bridge after extreme heat prevents it from closing

Firefighters showered the Cermak Road bridge with water on Wednesday to cool it down enough so it could fully close after being raised for the city’s weekly sailboat run.

Extreme heat caused the bridge over the Chicago River to expand enough that its ends didn’t fit together, according to Michael Claffey, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.

“This happens when it’s extremely hot,” Claffey said.

The fire department sent a patrol boat and other personnel to douse the bridge with water until it was cool enough to contract and close properly, he said.

Although unusual, the problem happens periodically and is easily fixed with cold water, Claffey said.

Chicago reached 86 degrees Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. The heat index was 91 degrees.

On Tuesday, the city opened its cooling centers in anticipation of a heat wave expected to end Friday.

Forecasters expect another round of excessive heat in the midwest starting July 16, the weather service said. The heat index then could reach 105 degrees.