VERGENNES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Neighbors in Kent County are taking preventative action to make sure the historic Fallasburg Bridge won't burn down.
Concern arose after White's Bridge -- which was the oldest covered bridge in use in the state -- was set on fire just a few miles away on July 7.
Since then, people who live in Vergennes Township, north of Lowell, have been meeting with the Kent County Road Commission to find a solution to prevent a similar situation at Fallasburg Bridge.
Wednesday night, they held a meeting at the Fallasburg Park museum building to discuss their options. They decided to paint the bridge with fire retardant.
But that plan still needs approval because the bridge is 142 years old and one of the few covered bridges left in the state.
"People from all over the country come to see it. The other day there was a bunch of travelers from Asia. They were over here. They had a whole bus," Julie Raab, who lives down the street from the bridge, said.
Sharon Weiland's daughter recently took family pictures at the bridge. She said that's fairly common.
"I think it's beautiful," she said.
And the community wants it to stay that way.
They also discussed installing lights, a heat sensor that would alert the fire department, and cameras.
"It's sad because you wouldn't think you would have to do that, but we have to do what we have e to do to keep that bridge," Raab said.
Neighborhood watch signs have already gone up.
Vergennes Township, Kent County Parks and the Kent County Road Commission have all agreed to pay for the changes, which won't be cheap. The fire retardant alone is estimated to cost about $35,000.
But before anything is done to the bridge, it has to be approved by the Historical Society of Michigan and the Department of Natural Resources.
The township is optimistic they will be to get all parties to approve something to prevent arson.
"Our small community here, we're watching out for that bridge," Raab said.
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