What burned under the I-85 overpass?

ATLANTA — As crews continue to clear out the Interstate 85 collapse site and begin rebuilding, the Georgia Department of Transportation said it expects to be finished with the demolition phase at the site by Thursday.

They expect to finish rebuilding I-85 by June 15.

The agency answered questions about the materials that were stored underneath the overpass.

“We know this is an active investigation, and we've been fully cooperating with the fire investigation by local officials,” GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said.

McMurry said there were spools of non-combustible HDPE and fiberglass conduits left behind under the overpass after a contractor couldn't finish the job 10 years ago.


The GDOT saved it because they thought they might use it again, but never did.

Police say a homeless man set a sofa and shopping cart on fire in the secured yard Thursday, igniting the spools and causing the fire that destroyed 700 feet of I-85.

McMurry admits, in retrospect, it probably wasn't a good idea to store those spools under the overpass, but he also said no one could have imagined someone would set it on fire.

“Obviously, what we know now, if we knew then, we would not have the material stored in the fashion that it was stored, so the gating and the fencing was really to keep the material from being stolen or removed from the area,” McMurry said.