Gosport, IN Covered Bridge Fire, Oct 1955

FIREMAN IS KILLED AS PRANK RESULT.

Bloomington, Ind. (AP) - A volunteer fireman was killed and nine others were injured early today when a 300-foot covered bridge collapsed in a fire believed set by Halloween pranksters.

The bridge, spanning White River east of Gosport in Monroe County, apparently was set fire about midnight. State Police said it collapsed about 1 a.m. (CST).

The body of BERT DITTAMORE, 33, a Gosport merchant, was recovered from the stream. It was not determined immediately whether he was killed in the bridge collapse or drowned.

The injured were identified as:
RICHARD FELTON.
VERNON WAMPLER.
BOB THARP.
JOE KING.
EARL LIVINGSTON.
DARRELL PORTER.
CHARLES MORGAN.
LARRY SNODGRASS.
FRANK BURKHART, 57.

State police said all the injured were volunteer firemen. Only three FELTON, THARP and PORTER, were injured seriously enough to be brought to the hospital here. They were treated and released.

Town Trustee Dewey Douglas said the fire "definitely was the work of vandals." He said the bridge had been set afire Wednesday night also but the blaze was discovered in time to put it out.

The three-span bridge has been a bone on contention between Gosport citizens and the Monroe County Board of Commissioners for years. It was condemned and blockaded two years ago after a truck nearly went through it.

Gosport residents appealed to the county commissioners to have the bridge repaired, but County Surveyor John Stapleton said it was unfit for repair.

The closing of the bridge forced Gosport residents traveling east to detour southwest to Spencer, 10 miles away, to cross the river.

The center covered span of the bridge directly over the river was the one which burned and collapsed. A steel approach span on the east bank still stands. The covered approach span on the west bank collapsed earlier this year in a rain.

The Kokomo Tribune Indiana 1955-10-28