• 8 things to know about the fiery I-85 bridge collapse

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - All of Atlanta will remember Thursday, March 30, 2017 for a long time.

    Just after 6 p.m. a massive fire broke out underneath I-85 northbound in northeast Atlanta, which led a section of the highway to collapse, officials said.

    Fire officials were able to get a handle on the fire after more than an hour.

    [DOWNLOAD: WSB-TV's news app for alerts on updates on the bridge]

    Here are eight things to know:

    What caused the fire?

    The Georgia Department of Transportation said the fire originated in a "secured area containing materials such as PVC piping which is a stable, non-combustible material." 

    The man accused of starting the fire, Basil Eleby, 39, was charged with first-degree arson in connection with the fire and a felony charge of criminal damage to property. 

    Police said Eleby set fire to an upholstered chair, which ignited materials under I-85. A case warrant said that Eleby told police he went under the bridge to smoke crack cocaine. 

    Eleby was granted $10,000 bond after spending 20-days in the Fulton County Jail. Eleby walked out with his team of civil rights attorneys on Wednesday April 19, 2017, with conditions that he stays 1,000 feet away from the scene of the fire and remain in drug treatment. 

    Where exactly did the fire occur?

    The fire was underneath a bridge on I-85 northbound near Piedmont Road just south of Ga. 400. The interstate is now closed in both directions as crews reconstruct the bridge.


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    The moment the bridge collapsed

    The bridge was on fire for more than a half hour before it collapsed while Channel 2 Action News was on the air.

    What are Atlanta drivers supposed to do?

    Everyone in the area was told to get off the interstate when the I-85 fire, bridge collapse occurred. 

    Troopers based in Atlanta worked to get cars on the interstate turned around. "We're trying to find a way to get those people off the interstate," said Capt. Mark Perry of the Georgia State Patrol.

    Everyone in the city was encouraged to use MARTA trains to get to and from work.

    MARTA trains are the best bet to get out of the city, Spokesman Eric Burton said.

    The Georgia Department of Transportation closed both sides of the interstate for reconstruction. They removed three sections of the bridge near the collapsed section and reconstructing both the northbound and southbound lanes in the area.

    MARTA adds extra service lines

    MARTA added extra service lines to deal with the increase in ridership during the morning, afternoon and evening commutes.

    MARTA is encouraging passengers to use Kiss/Ride to and from MARTA stations due to extra riders.

    How to use MARTA to get around I-85 bridge collapse. 

    Did anyone get hurt?

    Gov. Nathan Deal said there were no injuries.

    How are people reacting?

    People took to social media to share their thoughts, many messages mixed with both shock and worry.

    President Trump honored Georgia's first responders for rushing to the I-85 fire, bridge collapse.

    Trump commented to the first responders, saying their fast action, skill and courage as they battled 40-foot flames saved lives and represented the true strength of America.  

    Trump sent $10 million in federal support to Georgia's emergency construction and repair efforts just an hour after it was requested. The president also pledged new infrastructure spending. 

    When will the bridge be repaired?

    Georgia's Department of Transportation, Director of Construction, Marc Mastronardi said the completion of the bridge is set for mid-June.

    GDOT found the original plans from when the section of overpass was first built in 1984, but they will use updated construction techniques to rebuild the bridge. 

    The updates will cut down on overall construction time. 

    Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.

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