3 arrested in Atlanta fire underneath interstate bridge

As rush hour got underway Thursday, just after 6 p.m., Interstate 85 burst into flames, collapsing the bridge over GA 13, near Piedmont Road. They could feel the amount of heat building up beneath the bridge, he told CNN.

The cause of the blaze was not known Friday, Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker told reporters, and authorities have so far not turned up any leads. Witnesses say troopers were telling cars to turn around on the bri.

The section of interstate collapsed Thursday because of a fire on I-85. Neither did he say how the fire started.

Interstate 85 is a major thruway through the Atlanta metropolitan area, carrying 250,000 cars a day traveling north and south.

ATLANTA -Three people were arrested Friday in the Thursday night blaze on Interstate Highway 85 in Atlanta that locked up traffic for hours and has closed a heavily-traveled section of I-85 for months.

According to spokesman for the state Fire Marshal's office Glen Allen, Basil Eleby, Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas are all facing charges.

He would not discuss how the fire was started or why, saying the details would be released as the investigation progresses. But traffic was a nightmare, with drivers lined up bumper-to-bumper on nearby streets. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to plan alternate transportation routes to all SCAD Atlanta facilities accordingly as this area will experience commuter challenges for several months. Stafford said a portion of the bridge on I-85 fell about 7 p.m.

Things quickly worsened, said Stafford, who arrived a few minutes after the call was dispatched.

Tim Knowles, who lives in Fairburn, an Atlanta suburb, said his drive to Friday night's exhibition against the New York Yankees took 30 to 40 minutes.

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Amelia Ford, who lives in Atlanta, opted to find another route to work by auto Friday said it took her 45 minutes to travel 3 miles from her home to the nearest open interstate exit.

The cause of the I-85 collapse has not been confirmed, but Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a high-density plastic conduit was found on the site.

Georgia Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mark McDonough said commuters are going to have to adjust their schedules and make use of alternate routes to work.

McMurry said the fire started in an area used "as a storage location for construction materials, equipment and supplies".

No injuries were reported from the fire and collapse.

He said chunks of concrete were flying off the highway supports before the collapse, prompting firefighters to retreat to safety, nearly certainly preventing casualties. Federal transportation officials have awarded $10 million in emergency funds to aid in repairs.

"We are not able to give you a firm estimate at this moment", McMurry said.

Built in 1953 and renovated in 1985, the collapsed span scored a sufficiency rating of 94.6 out of 100 in its last inspection in 2015, said Natalie Dale, a spokeswoman for the Georgia DOT.

Reginald DesRoches, a professor at Georgia Tech, said most structural materials lose strength when subjected to high temperature, meaning the concrete could have been compromised by the heat.

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