Atlantans remember the day five years ago when I-85 caught fire, collapsed

ATLANTA — On March 30, 2017, most of Metro Atlanta and the country watched as a portion of Interstate 85 burned and then collapsed.

“That’s the weird thing. You drive on a highway everyday. You don’t expect it to fall out,” witness Loren Williams said.

Williams told Channel 2′s Audrey Washington she saw the raging fireball as she drove home from work.

“It was burning for a very, very long time, so I don’t know, it was scary,” Williams said.

Trexler Curtis works just a few feet away from the I-85 bridge at Two Mint Car Wash on Piedmont Road.

“I remember seeing smoke down the way,” Curtis said.

Hours after the collapse, crews with the Georgia Department of Transportation began repairs that would take months.

Initially, police charged three people in connection with the fire. Those charges were later dropped when the National Transportation Safety Board found that GDOT unsafely stored materials under the bridge and therefore contributed to the fire.

The interstate reopened in May 2017.

In April 2017, GDOT committed to removing combustible materials from underneath bridges.

The department also identified regulations for permanent storage sites.

“I go under that bridge every night to get on the connector and I like how they have it all cleared out and they put razor wire around the DOT Part,” Curtis said.