FORT WALTON BEACH -- A barge crashed into the Brooks Bridge about 3:15 p.m.


FORT WALTON BEACH -- A barge crashed into the Brooks Bridge about 3:15 p.m.



The bridge is being closed to all traffic. There were cars on the bridge when the crash occured.



Some pipes that run under the bridge were struck and were leaking large amounts of water and possibly gas.



Damage is reported is reported on the west side of the bridge.



View a slideshow of the damage.



A crane on top a barge hit the west side of the bridge about 3:15 p.m.



It is unknown if there were any injuries. Firefighters and paramedics are on the scene to look for any possible injuries on the boats that were underneath the bridge.



A couple who witnessed the barge hitting the bridge said the barge kept going forward as the equipment went backwards and hit the barges behind it.



They said it took about 15 seconds for the barge to stop and reverse, but by that time concrete, rails and water had started coming down.



About two feet of the guard railing along the bridge appears to be destroyed. There is minor damage to the road, according to people at the scene.



Department of Transportation engeineers are en route to the bridge to assess the damage.



"We'll have a better idea what is going on with the bridge after we get an assessment," said Ian Satter, a spokesman for the DOT.



The Okaloosa Sheriff's Office is directing motorists to use the Mid-Bay Bridge as an alternate route.



Okaloosa County Water and Sewer Director Jeff Littrell said he and his staff are trying to reach the bridge but have been delayed by traffic congestion. Onlookers have reported water shooting from the pipes that run over the bridge.



"We don't know how bad the leaks are in the pipes," Littrell said. "We have a 16-inch water main that runs across the bridge. That is the water supply to Okaloosa Island."



Littrell said he is monitoring the water levels in the island's three water tanks and the system has not lost pressure.



"We've got 900,000 gallons of storage we can rely on. We may need to close valves on the other side of the bridge," Littrell said, adding that he's sent workers through Niceville to reach Okaloosa Island because Brooks Bridge is closed.



All Okaloosa County School buses were across the bridge before the barge struck, according to Okaloosa County Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson.



Transportation officials are currently working on different routes for tomorrow morning, so delays are possible, she said.



Students in the county only have one more day of school before they go on spring break, so Jackson hopes they can keep inconvenience at a minimum for families.



"We'll just take it one day at a time," she said. "We'll have time over spring break to really figure it out."