Atlanta residents may face travel nightmare after highway bridge collapses

Ron Chapple Studios/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Three people have been arrested in connection with the large fire that collapsed a portion of an Atlanta highway Thursday, according to fire officials.

The suspects were identified as Basil Eleby, Sophia Broner and Barry Thomas, Georgia Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence to ABC News. Eleby faces a charge of criminal damage to property, while Broner and Thomas each were charged with criminal trespass. They have not yet entered pleas.

According to Georgia Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence, the suspects allegedly lit the fire using material that were on site.

Two of the suspects were interviewed, leading to the arrest of the third, Florence said. They were being held at the Atlanta City Jail awaiting a bond hearing.

Atlanta residents may face a travel nightmare after a massive fire caused an overpass on Interstate 85 in the city to collapse, shuttering the major thoroughfare.

Atlanta residents may face a travel nightmare after a massive fire caused an overpass on Interstate 85 in Atlanta to collapse, shuttering the major thoroughfare.

No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Georgia Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said the fire started in an area used "as a storage location for construction materials, equipment and supplies. The site was a secured area containing materials such as PVC piping, which is a stable, noncombustible material."

Interstate 85 is a major thruway through the Atlanta metropolitan area, carrying 250,000 cars a day traveling north and south. Now, the highway's closure is expected to cause major headaches in this heavily car-dependent city.

No timeline has been set yet for repairs, officials said.

"The southbound sections of I-85 received damage from the fire requiring the replacement of those sections, as well as the collapsed section on the northbound bridge and possibly other adjacent sections," McMurry said in a statement Friday morning.

With some areas still hot from the blaze, officials haven't been able yet to fully access the scene and determine necessary repairs, McMurry said, adding, "We do know that it is expected to be a time consuming event."

Drivers are encouraged to shorten their trips and carpool with others, and Atlanta's public transportation system is stepping up rail and bus service, McMurry said.

"We ask for your continued patience as we gather more information and details on the required repairs and reconstruction activities needed to bring this roadway back to operational levels," McMurry said.

On Thursday evening, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for Fulton County.


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