At 6:12 pm on March 30th, Atlanta firefighters were alerted to a large fire stemming from an I-85 overpass. Less than an hour later a 350 ft section of the highway collapsed, thankfully without any injury. The Atlanta I-85 bridge collapse shocked the nation, leading to conspiracy theories, fear of terrorism, and an incredible inconvenience for commuters. According to CNN, the actual cause of the blaze may be surprising: crack cocaine.
Basil Eleby, the suspected arsonist behind the Atlanta I-85 bridge collapse is being held on a $200,000 bond in connection to the fire. According to two others who were connected to the fire, Eleby was overheard shortly before the blaze discussing smoking crack cocaine under the overpass. While Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas are not being held in connection to the incident, they provided testimony lead directly to Basil’s arrest.
The incident began when Eleby approached Bruner and Thomas with plans for the three of them to smoke crack cocaine together. When they gathered under the overpass, Eleby placed a chair on top of an overturned shopping cart and prepared to smoke. From there the story is unclear: one account says Eleby left, deciding to smoke by himself. Another claims Thomas witnessed Eleby lighting the chair on fire before leaving. Police reports do not state why these three were suspected. Basil Eleby, who is believed to be homeless as well, is currently being held before his April 14th court date.
No repairs for the Atlanta I-85 bridge are scheduled for the foreseeable future. This has resulted in traffic issues throughout the city. Thankfully no lives were lost during the incident.