A massive fire underneath the overpass of I-85 North near Piedmont Road in Buckhead caused the collapse of the bridge during rush hour March 30 and is expected to impact commutes for a significant period of time. No injuries have been reported.

Atlanta firefighters battle massive blaze under I-85 shortly before overpass collapse. (Atlanta Fire Department screen captures)

Black plumes of smoke were coming from underneath the bridge at about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, leading Atlanta Police and the Atlanta Fire Department to stop northbound and southbound traffic. The bridge collapsed about 7:30 p.m.

Georgia Department of Transportation is reporting all lanes of I-85 from Downtown Connector to Ga. 400 are closed. People are asked to use 511ga.org for alternative routes.

Georgia DOT said the southbound I-85 Express Lane will operate at HOV3+ only from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m on Friday, March 31. Only vehicles with three or more occupants will be allowed to use this lane. Motorists will still need to use a Peach Pass to use the lane. The northbound Express Lane is not affected and will operate as normal.

Atlanta public schools will be open Friday, March 31, but is still figuring out how buses will get to Buckhead’s North Atlanta cluster, according to APS tweets.

DeKalb County public schools will be closed March 31 “out of concern for the safety of its students and Atlanta-area motorists,” according to a press release.

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for Fulton County in an order that has all state agencies opening late on March 31, at 10 a.m. Area employees who are able to work from home are encouraged to do so.

Crews remain on the scene but the fire is under control. Fire trucks from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport drove up and sprayed foam over the burned collapsed overpass.

What caught fire and was burning so hot is not yet known. People are advised to stay away from the area and find alternate routes for their commutes.

The Atlanta Braves exhibition game at the new SunTrust Park in Cobb County is Friday, and I-85 was to be one major road for fans to get to the stadium. Roswell Road is considered one major alternative for those who usually take I-85.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.