Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: Fire Causes Collapse of I-85 Bridge in Atlanta

EDM Friday Briefing: Fire Causes Collapse of I-85 Bridge in Atlanta


Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 31, 2017: A massive fire under an I-85 overpass in Atlanta causes a partial collapse of the bridge, Georgia's governor declares state of emergency for Fulton County due to fire and bridge collapse, a head-on collision between a church bus and a pickup truck kills 13 and hospitalizes two, authorities are blaming a burning candle for starting the fire that killed four in Oakland, California, heavy rains across the state and large snowfall in California's Sierra Nevada bring new threats, seven people are dead just hours apart in the same Chicago neighborhood, a school girl sustains injuries after being hit by a school bus, and two kindergartners are dead after being hit by a tractor-trailer.

  1. Late Thursday afternoon,a massive fire broke out under an I-85 bridge in Atlanta, Georgia, just south of the Ga. 400, causing a section of the northbound I-85 bridge to collapse, snarling traffic and creating total gridlock. The blaze started under the I-85 overpass, and caught plastic utility conduit spools being stored there on fire, causing thick black smoke to cover the interstate and stop traffic. The massive fire was finally contained after foam fire fighting trucks from the Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport arrived on scene. No first responders or citizens were injured during the incident.
  2. As a result of the I-85 bridge collapse in Atlanta, Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for Fulton County which will help free up funds to make the emergency repairs. The I-85 bridge collapse affected a major transportation artery for the city and according to officials, its repair is likely to take months. Inspectors from Georgia's Department of Transportation are on scene, along with the company that built the bridge, but the bridge is too unstable yet for inspection. The public train transportation system, MARTA, was not affected by the fire and at least through the weekend, will be operating an extended schedule.
  3. A church bus carrying 14 senior citizens from the First Baptist Church New Braunfels was coming back from a retreat when it was involved in deadly crash on Thursday afternoon about 75 miles outside of San Antonio, Texas. The accident occurred after a pickup truck veered left of center from the oncoming lane and hit the church bus head-on. The driver of the pickup truck, its only occupant, and one passenger remain in critical condition at a San Antonio hospital, the driver of the bus and its remaining passengers were killed in the crash.
  4. Authorities are stating that a candle burning in the building that caught fire and killed four people in Oakland, California was the cause of the massive blaze. The fire started just three days after fire inspectors issued violations to the owner citing overloaded electrical cords, a lack of fire extinguishers, and inoperable fire sprinklers and alarms. A city press release indicated that the full investigation should be completed in a few weeks.
  5. Recent heavy rains and large snowfall amounts have almost ended California's year's long drought but officials are now concerned about new threats - infrastructure impacts and flooding. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada's supplies most of the water for the state throughout the year as it slowly melts. However, heavy snowfall throughout the mountains this winter has dumped anywhere from 200-250 inches of snow, and snowpack exceeds 50 to 75 feet in many places. Once the snow melts, officials are concerned about pressure on infrastructure, including reservoirs, levees, and dams due to amount of runoff expected. Also, while surface waters have been replaced, groundwater replenishment still needs to occur before the drought can truly be over.
  6. In Chicago, Illinois, a total of seven people are dead following three separate shooting incidents just several hours apart in the same neighborhood. Thursday afternoon, a man approached a restaurant and opened fire, killing four people, two of which were brothers. Just a short time prior, and less than a mile away, a pregnant women was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Thursday evening, two people in a van were killed when an individual in a vehicle pulled up next to it and opened fire, an incident authorities indicate may have been a gang-related retaliation.
  7. A 6 year-old girl was hit by a school bus on Friday morning in Portsmouth, Virginia. The bus was traveling at a low rate of speed down the street and bumped the child, who ran out in front of the bus, knocking her to the ground where she hit her head. Her injuries appear to be minor, however she was transported to the hospital as a precaution.
  8. In Buckingham County, Virginia, two kindergartners are dead after being hit by a tractor-trailer while running across the road to board their bus on Thursday morning. The bus and tractor-trailer were traveling in opposite directions on Route 15 when the bus slowed, but had not come to a complete stop. Only the yellow caution lights were activated at the time of the accident as the bus had not fully stopped or deployed its stop sign or red lights. When they saw the bus approaching the children ran across the street directly in front of the tractor-trailer who did not have time to stop. Approximately 20 children were on the bus at the time of the incident.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.