National News

Suspect accused of fire that crippled I-85 to appear in court

Posted August 14

— Basil Eleby, the man accused of starting a fire underneath I-85 in late March that caused a section of the roadway to collapse, is expected to appear in court on Monday.

The incident happened on March 31, when Eleby allegedly set fire to a chair on top of a shopping cart that spread to piles of conduit that had been stored under the overpass near the GA-400 exit, destroying a portion of the roadway.

When Eleby, a homeless man, was arrested and accused of starting the fire, several lawyers stepped up to represent him at no charge. They say he is being used as a scapegoat after GDOT stored the flammable materials under the overpass.

The story made national headlines when it caused traffic nightmares in a city already known for its gridlock.

Two fellow homeless people told investigators that they were doing drugs with Eleby under the elevated section of the roadway when they began to argue, prompting Eleby to start the fire.

However, back in June, one of Eleby's lawyers said Eleby had an alibi. Eleby said he was with someone away from the fire, and that he was watching from a safe distance as the interstate burned and then collapsed.

Unless prosecutors have some other evidence, this could become a case of 'he said, she said,' making it difficult to prove that Eleby started the fire. His arraignment is expected to begin at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon.

Copyright 2017 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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