ATLANTA (AP) — A massive fire that caused an overpass on Interstate 85 to collapse in Atlanta was contained as of late Thursday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the fire burned for more than an hour under I-85 northbound near Piedmont Road, spewing large plumes of black smoke skyward.
“We do have the fire under control,” said Sgt. Cortez Stafford, a spokesman for the Atlanta Fire Department.
“The part that is not contained is the part that is under the section of the bridge that has collapsed,” Stafford said, adding that he does not expect the blaze to spread to any other structures.
Witnesses said troopers told motorists to turn around on the bridge because they were concerned about its integrity. Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.
Stafford said a portion of the bridge fell about 7 p.m.
Capt. Mark Perry of the Georgia State Patrol told the newspaper that the agency doesn’t know what started the fire but that terrorism is not suspected.
“The speculation I heard was it was some PVC products that caught fire,” Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters. “I do not know why they did or what the source of their transport was. But those are questions that will hopefully be answered at least by tomorrow morning.”
Deal added that “to his knowledge we have not had any injuries as a result of this fire on the bridge.”
I-85 has been shut down in both directions “for the foreseeable future,” a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation said.
The department warned all motorists to stay off I-85. Alternate routes include taking I-75 to I-285 or I-20 to I-285.
Multiple media outlets report traffic was bumper to bumper on Buford Highway as people tried to escape the backup from the collapse.
Deal said inspectors were at the scene and they’ve contacted the original company that built the bridge to come in and assess the extent of the damage.
“We’re trying to determine everything we can about how quickly can we repair it and get it back in service,” Deal said. “I can assure you we will do everything to expedite the repair and replacement of that section of the bridge.”