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Atlanta Man Charged with Arson in I-85 Collapse

The news of the Interstate 85 highway fire in North Atlanta that resulted in that same roadway’s collapse made national headlines. At first, officials were not sure what had caused the blaze that destroyed part of the highway. It was only after an investigation that it was discovered that arson was the cause of the fire.

According to information released to the press, the Atlanta man accused of starting the fire, Basil Eleby, claims that he had left the area before the flames set in. People who know the man accused of the crime say that he has been in and out of counseling for substance abuse problems. Many said that Eleby had both lived and worked near the bridge.

Witnesses have told police that the man set a chair on fire under or near the bridge. Some are left wondering how lighting a chair on fire led to such a catastrophe. After all, the materials that ultimately caused the conflagration require very high temperatures to burn. Further, the fire has left many people in Atlanta and across the nation wondering why such dangerous materials were being stored under the overpass in the first place. As such, many critics, including Eleby’s own public defender, claim that he is being used as a scapegoat.

It was a common assumption that technology and forensics were the main reason officials were able to discover who caused the fire, and how. Not so, say fire officials. According to James Deir, Assistant Special-Agent-in-Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the clues were mostly discovered through old-fashioned police work: talking to witnesses. Deir said that surveillance video also played a role in discovering the real cause of the crime and who was responsible for it.

Once all of the evidence is examined, it will be presented to the United State’s attorney’s office. It is this office that will determine whether federal charges will be filed and, if so, which ones they will be. For now, Eleby is facing state charges of arson and criminal damage to property.

If you have been accused of a crime like arson in Atlanta, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Reach out to our team for a free consultation today. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options.

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