BREAKING: 3 in custody in connection with I-85 fire, bridge collapse

State investigators arrested three people Friday in connection with a fire that caused the collapse of a heavily traveled section of I-85.

Jay Florence, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Insurance, which includes the fire marshal’s office, identified the three as: Basil Eleby, charged with criminal damage to property; Sophia Bruner, charged with criminal trespass; and Barry Thomas, charged with criminal trespass.

“We believe they were together when the fire was set and Eleby is the one who set the fire,” Florence said.

Authorities gave few details about how they identified the suspects. However, Florence and Glenn Allen, an insurance department spokesman, said investigators filed the charges after interrogating the three Friday afternoon. All three were taken to the Fulton County jail.

Florence said officials do not believe anyone else was involved in setting the fire, which quickly engulfed construction materials stored beneath the interstate at Piedmont Road. Allen said the charges could be “upgraded” as investigators develop more evidence.

Florence declined to say how the fire was started. However, he said the suspects used “available materials” at the site.

All three may have been homeless, Florence said, although it is not clear whether they had lived at the site beneath the highway.

On Read more about the arrests and related developments in the fire


Atlanta I-85 collapse: Mystery surrounds construction materials

MAP:  Where the I-85 collapse happened, road closures and detour routes

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About the Author

Raisa Habersham
Raisa Habersham is the Intown Atlanta hyperlocal reporter for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution.