The I-85 Fire & Collapse In Atlanta: Terrorism? Or Just Stupidity?

Late in the afternoon of March 30th, a stockpile of construction supplies stored under a section of the elevated I-85 highway on the east side of downtown Atlanta GA caught fire.  The fire raged through piles of CPVC pipe and barrels containing unidentified construction materials, all sitting just some 20 feet below the roadway deck.  After about an hour, a section of the roadway collapsed onto the major surface street below.  Fortunately nobody was injured in the incident, but Atlanta has lost a critical link in its already-overtaxed highway system.

I-85 is one of Atlanta’s major arteries.  Some 250,000 vehicles a day traveled that stretch of highway, and all are now being routed over surface streets and/or the three other interstates in the Metro.  The Georgia DOT says it’ll be several months until the roadway is back in service; fire damage is such that the adjoining elevated road section must also be replaced.  So what caused the fire? 

The MSM has released the name and photo of one Basil Elbey, a gentleman with NINETEEN priors, mostly drug charges, over the past 20 years.  Elbey has been booked on charges of arson and criminal trespass.  Here’s the mugshot of this beauty.

Two other suspects have been taken into custody and charged with trespassing on state property.  It’s thought Elbey and his associates may be homeless and may have been living in the fenced-off storage area under I-85.  Elbey is to appear before a judge today for preliminary questioning.


Google Earth reveals that the flammable construction materials had been stored under the roadway for perhaps ten years; GA DOT is not forthcoming as to how or why they were kept there, behind a lightweight chain link fence with an unlocked gate.  This photo shows the stockpile and the gate as it appeared a few years ago.


But why would a homeless man burn down his shelter?  And can burning CPVC pipe and barrels of highway maintenance materials generate sufficient heat to cause the collapse of a highway?  According to InterFire, a website dedicated to informing first responders about fire characteristics, the answer is no … and yes:

Spalling is a physical process of the breakdown of surface layers of masonry (typically concrete) which crumble into small pebble-like pieces in response to high temperatures and/or mechanical pressure.  The physical appearance of spalling may also include striated lines, discoloration of the masonry and pitting or rough texture to the concrete that remains attached to the slab.   Spalling is caused by heating, mechanical pressure, or both.  This heat and/or pressure causes uneven expansion of the materials that make up the concrete (such as sand and gravel), the reinforcing steel and the concrete mix, or the surface and subsurface layers of the concrete.  Alternatively, the heat may release the water in the concrete. Pressure created by rapid changes in temperature, such as application of cold water to the heated concrete surface during firefighting operations, can also cause spalling.  These processes break the bond that holds the solids together and thus cause the concrete to crumble.

The flame point of CPVC pipe is 900 degrees fahrenheit.  Structural steel melts at 2070 degrees fahrenheit.  Concrete can disintegrate via either spalling or steam-explosion fracturing, thus exposing the rebar as well as the structural steel support elements, to the heat of a fire.  But note that 900 degrees is a good bit below 2070 degrees.  So was an accelerant part of the combustible mix?  The videos of the fire and collapse do not show any explosions, but they also show that the fire burned for a few hours after the highway came down.  There are a few other cases of similar collapses resulting from burning fuel spills (see comments section), but the physics of this sort of incident are puzzling.

So now the 9/11 – type theories begin.  Was thermite used at the steel joints between the sections of the elevated highway?  Was the CPVC fire a smokescreen, as it were, to disguise the actual cause of the collapse?  Is Basil Elbey either a convenient scapegoat, or was he paid by Islamists to set the fire?  Or will this prove to be nothing more than a case of artistic self-expression by a “street person” of color?

Islamists in Atlanta! you scoff.  Well, the Obama Regime settled  many Syrian “refugees” in the town of Stone Mountain (home to the famed Confederate Generals mountainside carving) less than ten miles from the site of the fire.  And Jamaat al-Fuqra, the Muslims of the Americas (MOA), have a known training site an hour distant, in the town of Commerce, GA.

As this story develops, we should get a good picture of the honesty of the MSM, local Atlanta and Georgia authorities, and the FBI as the investigation proceeds and information is released.  Your humble correspondent will keep you updated.

Sources for this report include the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation website, YouTube, Google Earth, WXIA and WSB TV’s websites, and

— SafeSpace —

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6 Responses to The I-85 Fire & Collapse In Atlanta: Terrorism? Or Just Stupidity?

    • SafeSpace says:

      Thank you for the link; Google was not as forthcoming. The physics of these collapses are puzzling: Nothing burning generates enough heat to cause structural steel to melt … unless the extreme expansion of the steel joints resulting from heat causes the joints to fracture.

  1. Uriel says:

    Not really explained to my satisfaction
    1) why all that construction stuff was still there. Shouldn’t it have already been removed years ago?
    2) given the destruction, was there construction inadequacies in the structure when built? Like maybe “poor steel” from China or wherever.
    3) the dude looks “less than bright” — I know I am making judgement call BUT given his rap sheet and drug problems–well.. so that leaves 1) a pyromaniac’s thirst for fire without direction 2) that thirst directed by a more intelligent person for terrorist purposes (which is more likely)

  2. Hardnox says:

    I think this is just some dumbass doing stupid shit. PVC and cleaning fluids will definitely burn but not hot enough to melt steel. It will definitely eff up concrete though especially if the concrete was pur quality to begin with. It will crack and fall off after it cools. The bridge then loses its structural integrity. Imagine a superload of say 250,000 GVW cranking through there. That would be a mess. GDOT can ultrasound or xray the deck and beams all they want but they should aire on the side of caution and replace the spalted concrete. The steel will be fine.

    Proof once again dubbass druggies cost everyone millions and much aggravation.

    • SafeSpace says:

      UPDATE April 3rd: ‘Nox, you are correct. Atlanta law enforcement reports that Elbey and his two “associates” (gotta love cop-talk) were smoking crack under the roadway and “accidentally” set some HDPE materials on fire. HDPE is extremely flammable …. and the rest is history. So this was ISIS-related …. in this case ISIS stands for “I’se Stupid! I’se Stupid!”

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