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Atlanta, GA Weather from Weather Underground

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Atlanta I-85 collapse: 7 things to know, three suspects charged







"Questions abound days after crews battled a massive fire on I-85 northbound just south of Ga. 400 when a section of the highway collapsed.



It took an hour for fire officials to extinguish the fire and will take Atlanta commuters and city officials weeks and maybe months to adjust to the new normal of being devoid of the major thoroughfare and connector for the greater Southeast.



Late Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal also declared a state of emergency.



Here are seven things we know so far:  



What caused the fire?



As of Saturday afternoon, the direct cause is unknown, but deputy commissioner of the state Department of Insurance Jay Florence identified three possible suspects in connection to the incident.



Florence declined to say how exactly the fire was started, but said the suspects used “available materials” at the site.



Arrest warrants also suggest one suspect saw another “place a chair on top of a shopping cart, reach under the shopping cart” and ignite it.



Earlier, Channel 2 Action News reported that because flames appeared to be coming from underneath the interstate, the PVC piping under the interstate may have been the cause of the fire. Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker said he’s not sure what temperature is required to cause a bridge collapse, but the plastic materials stored under the bridge played a factor in the high temperature.



Who is allegedly responsible for the fire?



Authorities believe that three suspects — Basil Eleby, Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas — were together when the fire started, but that Eleby is the one who set the fire.



Basil Eleby, 39, was charged with arson, first-degree criminal damage to property and criminal trespass. Suspects Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas were charged with criminal trespass.



Warrants suggest Eleby was smoking crack before setting the fire and that Thomas told officials he saw Eleby “place a chair on top of a shopping cart, reach under the shopping cart” and ignite it.



Eleby, 39, has been arrested 19 times since 2000, mostly on drug offenses, according to Fulton County jail records.



Where exactly did the fire occur?



The fire was on a bridge — I-85 northbound just south of Ga. 400 near Piedmont Road, Atlanta fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said...



Atlanta I-85 collapse: 7 things to know, three suspects charged

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