Part of Cheshire Bridge Road closed again due to fire under overpass

Atlanta police have blocked lanes of Cheshire Bridge Road near Faulkner Road early Wednesday after a fire broke out under the railway overpass.

Credit: Ben Hendren for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Hendren for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta police have blocked lanes of Cheshire Bridge Road near Faulkner Road early Wednesday after a fire broke out under the railway overpass.

“Not again.”

That’s what Ron Moore said when he arrived for work Wednesday morning at his hair salon in northeast Atlanta, Anytime Cutz, and realized a portion of Cheshire Bridge Road was closed.

A few hours earlier, a fire had broken out underneath a nearby overpass, prompting officials to shut down the major thoroughfare for the second time in two years and leaving local business owners bracing for more financial losses.

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, those in the area were again forced to deal with traffic detours and stark reminders of similar scenes from recent months. The interstate and bridges in the area have been damaged several times due to fires, including some blamed on the homeless population. And a recent apartment complex fire also affected travel in the area.

That same stretch of Cheshire Bridge Road, located by the railroad tracks near Faulkner Road, had been open for just over a year after a fire broke out under another bridge in 2021. That bridge, which had to be rebuilt, is about a quarter-mile from where Wednesday’s fire broke out.

A portion of Cheshire Bridge Road is shut down after the fire.

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Ben Hendren for the AJC

The latest fire was reported around 1 a.m. after black smoke and flames were seen coming from under the bridge, according to Atlanta Fire and Rescue. When firefighters arrived, they discovered a large brush fire. No injuries were reported, and the cause remains under investigation.

While the fire was contained by 4 a.m., the traffic headaches were just beginning as Cheshire Bridge Road had to be closed from Faulkner Road to Wellbourne Drive, according to the Atlanta Department of Transportation. Investigators are working to determine if the structural integrity of the bridge was compromised, and there is no timetable for when the road will reopen.

The city’s DOT has outlined several detours on its website.

A fire broke out under a railway overpass early Wednesday.

Credit: Ben Hendren for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

icon to expand image

Credit: Ben Hendren for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Drivers have been advised to avoid the area if possible, with Piedmont Avenue and Lenox Road serving as alternate routes for commuters. Electronic message boards were placed in the area to assist motorists.

Kelly Makee, the owner of Antonio Raimo Gallery on Faulkner Road, emphasized that her business is still accessible, though she noticed fewer people visiting.

”We had some people who were supposed to pick up some items who said they cannot get here,” said Makee, whose business frames pictures and sells prints, paintings and books.

“I sort of have to try and text some directions on how to get around it,” she said. “I was supposed to get a delivery of materials today and that also has to be delayed because he didn’t think he could get here, either.”

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Cheshire Bridge Road closed again after another fire

At Sam’s Hair Salon, next to where the fire broke out, manager and co-owner Tony Martinez said they’d already had several cancellations within an hour of opening.

“We were just like, ‘Oh no!’ when we got in. ... A few people made it in to support us,” he said, but he anticipates that, like last time, the business they get from walk-in customers will suffer.

Moore, at Anytime Cutz, echoed that concern. While the shop is located just north of the closure, any patrons coming from Piedmont Avenue will have to go around to Lavista Road to get there.

“It might take you five minutes to get here, but now you gotta go all the way around, so that might discourage a lot of people,” he said. “We kinda stuck (it out last time), but when you do it back-to-back, it’s like, it hits you.”

Martinez and his co-owner, Sam Samroni, said they are hoping the road reopens soon. They’ve already had to close a second salon they operated, 2Qute Hair Salon, due to the previous closure.

“We lost a lot of business, so we decided to just keep one,” Martinez said, adding that the massive fire at an apartment complex about a mile away on Lavista Road was already hampering business. That Nov. 12 blaze, at the Reserve at LaVista Walk, forced road closures in the area.

The nearby fire in 2021 rendered the South Fork Peachtree Creek bridge structurally unsafe, requiring it to be demolished and rebuilt. It partially reopened in October 2022, then fully reopened in April of this year.

Another fire broke out in November 2021 under the Cheshire Bridge Road overpass near the Buford Connector. That one was started by “homeless encampment activity,” officials said at the time. No one was injured, but the fire caused warped steel and spalling on the concrete.

The string of fires in the area began in 2017 with what investigators believe was arson.

On March 30, 2017, a massive section of I-85 collapsed after a 39-year-old homeless man, Basil Eleby, allegedly set fire to an upholstered chair. The fire ignited high-density polyethylene pipes that the Georgia Department of Transportation was storing under Piedmont Road. Arson charges against Eleby were dropped in exchange for him going through an 18-month diversion program.

Contractors worked around the clock to rebuild the bridge in just six weeks.

— Staff writer Jeremy Redmon contributed to this article.