Police say the homeless guy was under the bridge smoking crack when he torched a stuffed chair that was on top of a shopping cart. The fire then spread to construction material stored under the raised interstate.
His lawyer has said he is being “scapegoated” so attention will be redirected away from the state and the storage of flammable construction materials under a raised section of the interstate for about a decade.
The accused has been homeless for as long as 15 years and has spent much of that time near the spot where the fire began on Piedmont Road, according to three acquaintances interviewed Saturday. He has been arrested 19 times in Fulton County since 1995, according to jail records, mostly on drug charges.
The Georgia state fire marshal said the huge spools of plastic and fiberglass conduit stored under the bridge were petroleum based and that allowed the fire to spread so quickly.
The material had been left and abandoned by a construction out fit that was bankrupted in the 2007-08 depression, and the state left it there in hopes it might be used someday
The highway’s collapse created what is certain to be a months-long nightmare for the 250,000 motorists who travel the already bottle-necked freeway each day.
The road’s closure cut off access to two major expressways – I-85 and GA 400 – and left motorists with no viable alternate routes.