3 arrested in Atlanta fire underneath interstate bridge

Yahoo News

ATLANTA (AP) — Three people have been arrested in connection with the raging fire that collapsed a portion of Interstate 85 a few miles north of downtown Atlanta, crippling a major traffic artery in a city already known for dreadful rush-hour congestion.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence said Friday evening that Basil Eleby faces a charge of criminal damage to property, and Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas each were charged with criminal trespass.  

“We believe they were together when the fire was set and Eleby is the one who set the fire,” Florence told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Florence would not discuss how the fire was started or why, saying those details would be released as the investigation progresses.

The fire broke out Thursday afternoon in an area used to store state-owned construction materials and equipment, sending flames and smoke high into the air.

Dozens of firefighters battling the roaring blaze beneath the roadway moved safely out of harm’s way amid telltale signs the roadway was breaking apart from the intense heat.

“They heard the cracking of the concrete,” Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker said. “They could see concrete was flying all over the place toward firefighters.”

Firefighters shut down the roadway before it fell and retreated safely without injury.

Experts in structural engineering said fires on highways and bridges rarely burn long enough or hot enough to cause a complete collapse — but it has happened. Intense heat can compromise even steel-reinforced concrete, said Lauren Stewart, director of the Structural Engineering and Materials Laboratory at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

“With fires, especially fires that burn for long periods and with high heat, you can see structures, anything from buildings to bridges, can have their material properties degrade,” Stewart said.

It’s happened before. In 1996, a fire in a big pile of tires beneath I-95 in Philadelphia left a span too weak to handle cars, forcing authorities to shut down 4 miles of the busy East Coast route for repairs.

Andy Herrmann, a retired partner with the New York-based engineering firm Hardesty & Hanover, said there have also been a few instances of gasoline trucks crashing and causing intense heat that damaged overpasses.

Herrmann said concrete will undergo severe cracking at about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit and start disintegrating at higher temperatures. Building roads to withstand such heat would be prohibitively expensive, he said.

“We have limited dollars for maintaining our bridges,” Herrmann said. “This is such a rare thing to occur.”

The highway collapse in Atlanta forced commuters Friday to find different routes to work or to use mass transit. Things won’t be back to normal for months, said Russell McMurry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

McMurry told a news conference Friday that 350 feet of highway will need to be replaced in both directions on I-85, which carries about 400,000 cars a day through Atlanta and is one of the South’s most important north-south routes. He said repairs will take “at least several months.”

Traffic was bumper to bumper Friday on streets near the closed stretch of highway. Amelia Ford picked a new route to drive to work and said it took her 45 minutes to travel 3 miles from her Atlanta home to the nearest open on-ramp to the interstate.

McMurry said his department stored coils of plastic conduit, used in fiber optic networks, beneath the span but insisted they were noncombustible.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao promptly released $10 million for the initial repair work, and the Federal Highway Administration promised more in emergency repair funds. Officials gave no estimate of how much the job would cost.

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.


AP writers Alex Sanz in Atlanta; Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia; and Kevin McGill and Rebecca Santana in New Orleans contributed to this report.


15 thoughts on “3 arrested in Atlanta fire underneath interstate bridge

  1. I still can’t imagine a fire “out side a oxi acciaccedlin torch ” that could do this.. honestly w/o considering twin towers. How the hell would even a gas fire take down one of these structures. Again ,hard target , William cooper explains is barnie style 911

    The other question …. why now?
    Even If it is just for them to say”See it’s possible…”

  2. My BS meter is on 11 for a 1-10 range. They originally blamed PVC pipe for the fire, but the chemical composition of pvc could NEVER achieve temperatures high enough to impact structural steel. Only an explosion could drop a section of bridge like that. I don’t think the public is getting all the truth.

  3. “We have limited dollars for maintaining our bridges,” Herrmann said.”

    Due to the massive theft of the rest by the politicians & jews.

  4. Cant’ wait to find out what good ol’ NIST has to say…now I’m no physics expert (but I can do the math!) but how does an interstate through a huge city not notice that something is wrong unless of course that’s the way they want it. Right. And blame it the homeless!

  5. A lot of times it isn’t so much what they aren’t saying, but what they are saying and how they are saying it.
    Enter Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence.
    What’s he doing there and why aren’t we receiving this info from some police Capt. whose sole job is to stand in front of a camera and lie his a$$ off?
    But, instead of hearing from Capt. Lierface we are being given info from a glorified insurance agent.
    Why are they even asking him what caused the fire? That’s the equivalent of asking a tax attorney how you go about driving an Abrams tank.
    I noticed who they’re not asking. They’re not asking Atlanta Fire Chief Joel Baker.
    Why they’re not asking him is definitely a Scooby-Doo mystery because it seems to me that he would be the one to know. At the very least, he would have some idea as to whether it was a solid or liquid fire.
    But nope, for some reason they don’t want to spoil the surprise.
    They roll right into the misdirection of trying to compare this to other events and while these other events may sound similar, I wouldn’t say they are synonymous.
    So is it an insurance scam? Possibly.
    It could be the bridge wasn’t structurally sound anymore and they decided to “pull it” Silverstien style.
    It could be somebody was storing something under the bridge that they weren’t supposed to be storing there.
    But we’ll never know, because the so called “journalists” can’t pull their microphones out of their collective a$$holes long enough to ask the right questions of the right people.
    They could be incompetent, but it’s more likely they are doing it on purpose.

  6. My fellow amerikans. Go to home depot and buy a pile of pvc. Lite a fire underneath it and tell me if it would reach the temperature needed to melt concrete and steel reinforcements.
    sheeple have no intellect.

  7. Ok…. om fkd enuff. . To comment o n thus.
    What happenz wjen three homeless crack heads…trie to cook vienna sausages under an Alatana brifge.
    Eye dunno either.
    But tjey are definitely terrorist.ss

    1. I don’t thank you fk’d up enuff yet.
      Cause I can titally unnerstand what yer sayin.
      Not stoner enuff.
      u shud prolly smoke anuther.

  8. GOVERNMENT ISSUED time frames for the destruction of concrete due to heating clearly state that even the cheapest concrete at 7 inches thick would take two hours to have significant structural failure issues if completely immersed on it’s underside in a 2000 degree flame. The I-85 Interstate bridge columns at 2 feet in diameter collapsing from only 20 minutes of small flame followed by about 20 minutes of large flame followed by about 8 minutes of enormous flame is APPROXIMATELY 16 HOURS SHORT OF WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO MAKE IT COLLAPSE. And it is iffy as to whether or not the fire under the Interstate even hit 2000 degrees based on the huge amount of black smoke from oxygen poor combustion during most of the burn time. There is absolutely no way so much concrete could have heated up and failed in such a short time. Completely impossible.
    This I-85 bridge collapse is a fairy tale (just like the 9/11 fairy tale): Lots of black smoke from an oxygen poor fire, for a short duration of about 1 hour, 6:12pm fire called in, 7pm CNN helicopter shows bridge collapse (90 minutes of jet fuel fire with heavy smoke), started by diesel fuel and HDPE conduit spools (aircraft jet fuel and office furniture), with the patsies being 3 homeless people (19 Arabs).
    What ‘hidden agenda’ could possibly be connected with the I-85 bridge collapse ???

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