ATLANTA – Crews said Sunday their goal is to reopen Piedmont Road by Monday morning, just four days after a massive fire that caused a portion of Interstate 85 to collapse, crippling traffic in both directions of the busy highway indefinitely.
Demolition crews have been working around the clock to repair the wreckage left behind after Thursday's fire and bridge collapse.
One of three people arrested for the fiery ordeal appeared in court Saturday morning. During an 11 a.m. hearing, Basil Eleby, 39, was charged with first-degree criminal damage to property and first-degree arson. His bond is set at $200,000. A second court hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 14. Until then, he will remain in custody at the Fulton County Jail.
Sophia Broner and Barry Thomas were also cited with criminal trespass charge, a misdemeanor. The state fire marshal’s office said the two men and one woman are believed to be homeless.
A warrant for the main suspect in the I-85 fire details how a " chair set on top of a shopping cart" was set on fire.
FOX 5 obtained a copy of the arrest warrant, which show statements made by the alleged suspects detailing that Eleby allegedly was using cocaine, and set a chair and shopping cart on fire.
Authorities tell FOX 5 witnesses placed the trio at the bridge when the fire started. Thursday's fire led to the eventual collapse of one of the spans and damaged at least three other spans.
“They used available materials to start the fire. We got reports that several individuals were in the area. We interviewed those; that led to a third,” said Jay Florence, Deputy Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner.
Investigators would not elaborate on the types of materials used, or why the individuals started the fire, or any motive, or where exactly on the bridge the fire started.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said it will take at least several months to repair Interstate 85, where an intense fire caused a section of the elevated northbound lanes to collapse during the Thursday evening rush hour.