So far only one person has charges of actually setting the fire, but that could still change.
The police in Atlanta, Georgia, have arrested three people for alleged connections to starting the fire that caused a portion of Interstate 85 to collapse. The major roadway carried around 250,000 vehicles a day, and the catastrophe has resulted in a traffic nightmare for people traveling through the city.
Basil Eleby faces charges of first-degree arson and first-degree criminal damage to property. Prosecutors are accusing two other people with criminal trespass but more charges are still possible.
The trio allegedly met under the I-85 bridge to smoke crack cocaine, according to an affidavit obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Eleby claimed that he decided to use the drugs by himself, and they parted company. However, another person at the scene said Eleby allegedly placed a chair on top of a shopping cart near PVC pipes underneath the elevated road and set the furniture ablaze. They fled afterward.
A spokesperson for Atlanta Fire Department told The Washington Post that he believed the fire was “maliciously set.”
The first reports of the fire started around 6:00 PM Eastern on Thursday, March 30. By about 7:30 PM, the northbound side of the bridge collapsed. Once firefighters extinguished the blaze, investigators found that PVC pipes, which were under the elevated road, likely fueled the flames. However, they didn’t know what caused this material to ignite at the time. No one was injured in the incident.
Construction crews will need to replace 350 feet of the bridge on the northbound and southbound sides. Rebuilding the road will take months and will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
For now, two lanes of I-85 southbound are open to local traffic so that drivers have access to an exit ramp. Otherwise, the road is closed until construction in complete.