Towpath bridge in Akron destroyed by arson

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AKRON, Ohio-- A bridge on the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail was intentionally set on fire, Summit Metro Parks Rangers say.

It happened at the first bridge north of Wilbeth Road in Akron Tuesday morning. The trail is now closed in the area.

A propane tank was found in the water and is believed to have been used to set the fire.

"It hurts; it really hurts because it's the time of the year that people are going to be out here using it," said longtime Summit Metroparks volunteer, Bill Barnes.

The section that is now closed because of the fire is in an area where there is no easy detour.

That surprised cyclists and other visitors to the trail on Tuesday, who had to turn around when they got to the barricades by the damaged bridge.

"I use this trail a lot on my bicycle and I don't like to ride alone at my age, but this trail I could use because on the weekend there's always someone in front of you and always someone behind you; it's that crowded," said Bill Wilkerson.

Akron Fire Lieutenant John Morrison tells Fox 8 News it happened just a few hours after another reported structure fire in the vicinity.

Investigators are working to determine if the two fires are related.

Don Licking is among those who set out to ride 25 miles on his bike along the scenic trail on Tuesday but had to go south from Wilbeth Road instead.

"I think the loss is greater for the people who started the fire, that they have that attitude that that's a more important thing for them than the trail or the people using it," said Licking.

Morrison says the fire is still under investigation.

Engineers from the city were at the scene on Tuesday trying to determine what it will take to make repairs and re-open the trail.

In the meantime, Summit Metroparks was working on trying to find a suitable re-route.

Anyone with information is urged to call 330-867-5511 to be connected with the ranger department.

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