ATLANTA, Ga – A man suspected of starting the fire which caused an I-85 bridge to collapse has been charged with arson and and criminal damage to property in the first degree, both felonies.
Basil Elbey made his first court appearance on late Saturday morning.
Thus far, Elbey, who is in the Fulton County Jail on $200,000 bond, is the only suspect charged in connection with the fire. His next court date is April 14.
According to the Atlanta Fire Department, two other people -- Sophia Bruner and Barry Thomas -- were detained but not arrested.
Fulton County Jail records show Eleby had been arrested 19 times before for drug, battery, assault and other charges. An April 2014 mugshot shows Eleby after he was arrested for charges related to the sale and trafficking of cocaine.
Other developments on Saturday:
The Georgia DOT said it is following “an aggressive schedule” to replace the I-85 bridge that collapsed in Midtown on Thursday. Demolition work has begun will continue through next week.
In the meantime, the northbound lanes of I-85 beginning near the Peachtree Road overpass have been reconfigured to allow for two travel lanes to continue northbound up to the Buford-Spring Connector for local traffic only.
Cheshire Bridge Road seemed to be the most heavily trafficked surface street closest to the bridge collapse, with gridlock-like conditions reported as early as 9 am.
Late Thursday afternoon, a massive fire under I-85 caused a huge chunk of the roadway to collapse.
The fire began in the middle of rush hour and brought Atlanta traffic on both sides of the busy interstate to a complete standstill, as giant flames and plumes of black smoke billowed. It left motorists stranded on the highway for hours as officials worked to divert traffic and clear the roadway.
No one was injured in the incident.
Officials say 700 feet of the I-85 northbound and southbound lanes will have to be rebuilt. Local officials confirmed that $10 million in federal funds have been released to help pay for the repair and reconstruction of I-85 damaged by the collapse.
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