Explosion at Rainbow Bridge Leads to Closure of Niagara Border Crossings

The Peace and Rainbow bridges are closed following an explosion on the U.S. side. Officials on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are investigating. (Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press)

An explosion on the Rainbow Bridge connecting Niagara Falls, New York, and Ontario has led to the closure of all major border crossings in the Niagara region. The incident, which took place on the U.S. side of the bridge, is under active investigation by the FBI and various law enforcement agencies.

Ron Rienas, the general manager of the Peace Bridge, confirmed the closure of the Peace and Rainbow bridges on Wednesday afternoon, stating that both directions of travel were affected.

The FBI Buffalo Field Office, through a statement on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, announced its involvement, stating, “The FBI Buffalo Field Office is investigating a vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge, a border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Niagara Falls.” The statement highlighted the coordinated efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, in a social media post, said she had been briefed on the incident and that state agencies were on site and ready to assist. Governor Hochul also mentioned her intention to travel to Buffalo to meet with law enforcement and emergency responders and to update New Yorkers as more information becomes available.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement noting the active engagement of provincial law enforcement in assessing the situation, working alongside local law enforcement.

Debris is scattered about inside the customs plaza at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

Witness Mike Guenther told WGRZ-TV about seeing a vehicle race toward the crossing from the U.S. side, which swerved, crashed into a fence, and exploded. Guenther described the explosion as a ball of fire reaching 30 to 40 feet high. Videos on social media have captured the aftermath, showing flames and heavy smoke near a security checkpoint booth.

The OPP’s Sgt. Kerry Schmidt informed that in addition to the Rainbow and Peace Bridge closures, authorities are in the process of closing Highway 405 and the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge. He warned of heavy delays in the area and advised delaying travel if possible.

Law enforcement personnel block off the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, in Niagara Falls, N.Y. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that he had been briefed by Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Advisor and that they are in contact with U.S. officials. He added, “The Minister of Public Safety, RCMP, and CBSA are fully engaged and providing all necessary support.”