A massive fire collapsed an Interstate 85 northbound overpass in Atlanta Thursday evening, March 30, 2017, one of the Southeast's major north-south arteries. At this time, authorities still don't know what exactly caused the fire that produced a serious transportation crisis. They said it will take at least several months to rebuild I-85.
The bridge on I-85 just south of Georgia State Route 400 near Piedmont Road collapsed about 19:00 EDT, Atlanta fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said and added there were no injuries to motorists or first responders.
"The cause of the fire can not be determined at this time because inspectors could not get under the bridge yet due to structural concerns," Stafford said. "The entire bridge is compromised. Right now, it's still dangerous to go under there."
Video courtesy AP
Video courtesy AP
Video courtesy Trump Dayz
Video courtesy FOX 5 Atlanta
Georgia Department of Transportation inspectors were on scene at the location of the I-85 bridge collapse overnight, their statement said.
Earlier this morning, a determination was made that 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.
"The extent of the fire-related damage necessitates extensive reconstruction activities to ensure the safety of motorists. We began design of the known damaged sections last night and continue designs as information is received. At this time, we do not have an anticipated duration for the repairs as we have not been able to fully access the site due to hotspots, but we do know that it is expected to be a time consuming event, Georgia DOT Commissioner Russel R. McMurry said a couple of hours ago.
The area in which the fire originated is part of the state’s right of way that was utilized 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, non-combustible material. "We are as eager to learn the cause of this fire as anyone, which is why we will continue to work closely and in full cooperation with fire investigators to determine exactly how the fire was started," McMurry concluded.
Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for Fulton County late Thursday and said state government agencies in Metro Atlanta will delay opening until 10 a.m. Friday.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said late Thursday he'd spoken with the FBI "and at this time there's no evidence of terrorism."
According to media reports, some schools and businesses were closed Friday, and traffic extensively rerouted.
Georgia DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said the interstate will be closed in both directions "for the foreseeable future."
In a status update press conference held by GDOT at 12:30 EST today (16:30 UTC), authorities said it will take at least several months to rebuild I-85. "At this time, we do not know what started the fire," Georgia Fire Chief said.
Featured image credit: Major fire causes a section of the northbound overpass on I-85 in Atlanta to collapse. Credit: FOX 5 Atlanta