A bridge collapsed on Thursday night in Atlanta on Interstate 85 due to a massive fire. Intestate 85 is one of the busiest freeways in the US and the collapsed bridge provoked a long term transportation crisis according to the mayor, holding up the rush hour traffic thus creating several miles long blockages and driving motorists crazy.
A huge fire was reported underneath the bridge at 6:21 PM local time on the northbound side, where State Highway 400 merges with the interstate.
The local authorities were forced to close the interstate freeway and drivers were turned around during the evening rush hour.
Forty minutes later, the bridge collapsed in a spectacular flaming heap that ejected a black thick smoke in the air, that was visible for several miles around Atlanta.
The traffic was fortunately diverted from the bridge before it collapsed hence no injuries were reported, according to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
However, thousands of commuters on the interstate were locked in place and they were delayed for hours as state troopers tried to find a way to decongest the road.
Late Thursday night, Georgia’s Governor declared a state of emergency for Fulton County and Atlanta. The fire was declared contained at approximately 8 PM local time, but the real problem was the collapse of the bridge, not the fire. According to the Transportation Department, all lanes of Interstate 85 in the affected area will be blocked indefinitely, leading to a serious transportation crisis.
The salutary intervention of state troopers saved lives, as they managed to stop all inbound traffic 40 minutes before the bridge collapsed. The cause of the fire was not determined yet as the inspection of the affected structures will begin Friday at the earliest due to the heat still being generated by the flames, which prevent access to the scene.
One theory is that the PCV piping commonly used in these types of structures may have caught fire for some reason, while other reports suggest that the collapse was due to large amounts of polyvinyl chloride piping (PVC) that were stored under the bridge.