Suspect in I-85 Bridge collapse charged with arson; 200K bond set

Judge James Altman added the arson charge on top of a previous felony charge of criminal damage to property. Eleby, who has a string of previous drug and assault arrests, according to Fulton County jail records, was held on $200,000 bond.

Basil Eleby made his first appearance in court Saturday morning.

Eleby Is being charged with Criminal Damage to Property in the 1st Degree for his role in the fire that caused a portion of I-85 in Atlanta, Ga to collapse.

The three had gathered under the bridge to smoke crack, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Eleby claims to have left the scene before the fire erupted.

Eleby says he was in the area under I-85 at Piedmont Road, a location he says he frequents on his way to and from work at a tire shop, according to the source.

Local news outlets report the Georgia Department of Transportation officials said at least four vehicles were involved in the wreck as one auto caught fire heading westbound on Interstate 20 that left three lanes blocked Monday around 5 a.m.

There are many questions that are unanswered about the fire and what role Eleby and two others associated with the incident may have had.

Transportation officials stored plastic pipes used to protect fiber-optic cables beneath the bridge.

Those trucks - which carry especially powerful hose nozzles and 3,000 gallons each of a water-foam mixture - combined efforts with resources already on the ground, Stafford said.

Black smoke billowed from under the interstate for hours.

Bridge inspectors have asked for patience from local residents, saying they will have to remove and replace at least 700 feet of roadway, including support columns.

Firefighters responded, but the fire weakened the structure, causing the northbound section to fall and severely damaging the southbound side. No injuries to motorists or emergency workers were reported.

Friday's commute the day after the fire saw major delays as commuters swamped Atlanta's mass-transit system and other highways.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said it is still working on its reconstruction plan, and that the exact timeline for restoration is unclear.

Firefighters were alerted at 6:12 p.m. Thursday to the blaze under I-85 in northeast Atlanta, north of the highway's split with I-75. He said he heard several explosions beneath the bridge, followed by a slow rumbling.

The impact on traffic long-term was not immediately known, but traffic was bumper to bumper on nearby surface streets Thursday night as people scrambled to find alternate routes. Unfortunately, local owners report that the threat of unusually heavy traffic is staving off even seasoned Atlantans from roads that have become main routes nearly overnight like Cheshire Bridge. Local officials confirmed that $10 million in federal funds have been released to help pay for the fix and reconstruction of I-85 damaged by the collapse.

  • Leroy Wright