ATLANTA  — A massive fire caused an interstate bridge to collapse during rush hour Thursday in Atlanta, just minutes after witnesses said police halted traffic and turned cars away from the crumbling overpass. However, officials said no one was hurt despite dramatic images of towering flames and plumes of smoke.

The 2-alarm fire burned Thursday afternoon on I-85 near Georgia 400 in Atlanta, CBS affiliate WGCL reports. After the fire burned for about 45 minutes, part of the roadway collapsed.

Witnesses say troopers were telling drivers to turn around on the bridge because they were concerned about its integrity. Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.

Atlanta police said the fire burned piles of plastic wiring under the I-85 overpass near the Lindbergh MARTA station.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the fire burned for more than an hour under I-85 northbound near Piedmont Road, spewing large clouds of black smoke skyward. The interstate – a major artery for the U.S. South that runs through the heart of Atlanta – was closed indefinitely.

The impact on traffic long-term was not immediately known, but traffic was bumper to bumper on nearby surface streets Thursday night as people scrambled to find alternate routes.

“This is about as serious a transportation crisis as we can imagine,” Mayor Kasim Reed said.

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As an Atlantan, this is probably the worst thing that could possibly happen to the city.

As if the traffic wasn’t already bad enough, a primary artery in and out of the city is now destroyed and will take months to fix.

Time will tell how incredibly devastating this will be…


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