At­lanta traf­fic hor­ror: Crews raz­ing fallen high­way over­pass

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION -

AT­LANTA | As crews rushed to clear de­bris from a ma­jor At­lanta in­ter­state span that col­lapsed in a rag­ing fire, com­muters in the South­east’s largest city braced for the first full work­week with­out the key link to some of the city’s biggest sub­urbs.

Of­fi­cials pledged after Thurs­day’s col­lapse of a 350-foot sec­tion of In­ter­state 85 that a re­place­ment bridge would be built as soon as pos­si­ble.

But crews were work­ing around the clock again Sun­day to fin­ish re­mov­ing

scorched de­bris from the col­lapsed north­bound span and re­mov­ing the south­bound span weak­ened by the blaze.

After that, a re­place­ment bridge could take months to build.

The fire was started by a man smok­ing crack un­der the bridge in an area north of down­town At­lanta where

the state of Ge­or­gia stores non­com­bustible, construction ma­te­ri­als, authorities said.

It rapidly grew with smoke bil­low­ing high above the city’s sky­line. It didn’t take long be­fore chunks of con­crete weak­ened by the high heat be­gan fly­ing off the bridge, leav­ing fire­fight­ers to scram­ble away for safety.

No one was in­jured.

Basil Eleby was charged with first­de­gree ar­son and first-de­gree prop­erty dam­age. He re­mains in jail on a $200,000 bond.

Two other peo­ple with him were charged with crim­i­nal tres­pass, authorities said.

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