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Three Arrested in Connection With Atlanta Highway Fire

© AP Photo / David GoldmanCrews work on a section of an overpass that collapsed from a large fire on Interstate 85 in Atlanta, Friday, March 31, 2017. Many commuters in some of Atlanta's densely populated northern suburbs will have to find alternate routes or ride public transit for the foreseeable future after a massive fire caused a bridge on Interstate 85 to collapse Thursday, completely shutting down the heavily traveled highway.
Crews work on a section of an overpass that collapsed from a large fire on Interstate 85 in Atlanta, Friday, March 31, 2017. Many commuters in some of Atlanta's densely populated northern suburbs will have to find alternate routes or ride public transit for the foreseeable future after a massive fire caused a bridge on Interstate 85 to collapse Thursday, completely shutting down the heavily traveled highway. - Sputnik International
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Three people have been arrested in connection with the huge blaze that took out a chunk of Atlanta freeway on Thursday and will cause traffic headaches for months.

Basil Eleby, 39, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of having started the fire that destroyed an I-85 overpass, and is charged with criminal damage to property. Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas were arrested for criminal trespassing. All suspects are believed to be homeless, AP reports.

"We believe they were together when the fire was set and Eleby is the one who set the fire," Jay Florence, deputy commissioner of Georgia's Department of Insurance, which includes the fire marshal's office, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Eleby, who has been arrested at least 19 times, mostly for drug offenses, could face 10 years in prison, local media report. Authorities have not said how or why the fire was started, but Florence said it's believed the suspects used "available materials" at the site. It's not clear whether the three lived on the site beneath the highway where the fire was started.

Officials have not said how much the total repairs will cost, but the US federal government has released $10 million in emergency funds for initial repairs for the 700 feet of affected roads.

The fire quickly caught among the construction materials stored under the overpass, and while no one was hurt in the blaze, blocking off a chunk of highway traveled by some half a million cars a day will tax Atlanta's public transportation systems and cause major traffic problems while repairs are underway.

 

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