ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency for Fulton County after a massive fire erupted under I-85 Thursday afternoon, causing portions of the interstate to collapse.
“The state is mobilizing all available resources to ensure public safety and minimize disruption of traffic as we continue emergency response efforts,” Deal said in a statement. "
According to Deal, the Georgia Department of Transportation is working with the Georgia Department of Public Safety, GEMA and Homeland Security and other local officials.
A portion of Interstate 85 has collapsed as a massive fire burned on I-85 near Piedmont Road Thursday evening.
Flames erupted underneath the interstate and black smoke is billowing under all sides near the Buford-Spring Connector.
Part of the interstate bridge just south of Georgia 400 and Piedmont Road collapsed, and traffic was brought to a standstill.
There were no signs of any injuries, Atlanta Fire Dept. Sgt. Cortez Stafford said.
The cause of the fire and collapse have not yet been determined.
Deal encouraged the public to avoid the area where the collapse happened and urged everyone to stay patient and allow first responders to do their jobs.
"We will continue updating the public on alternative traffic routes and other information as it becomes available,” the statement continues.
GDOT and other state and local transit agencies are working to identify all possible options for commuters, including utilizing the Xpress Bus Service and Peach Pass express lanes.
Atlanta Public Schools issued a statement saying that its schools would operate on a normal schedule on Friday.
"The district is working in coordination with city and state officials to ensure smooth operations tomorrow," said APS spokesperson Kimberly Willis Green. "APS is working on a transportation plan to move buses to the North Atlanta cluster to ensure buses are available to transport students in the morning. We are asking that parents and guardians be patient as we strive to deliver the highest quality of service given these circumstances. We are asking staff to make arrangements to come in early to receive students."
DeKalb County Schools, however, notified 11Alive that their district will not be open Friday. Twelve-month employees only should report to work.
City of Atlanta government offices said they would be delayed until 10 a.m. Friday. They issued a statement from their offices saying:
The City of Atlanta will have a delayed start of 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 31, 2017. All essential and emergency personnel should report to work at their regularly-scheduled time on Friday, March 31, 2017. All non-essential employees should report at 10:00 a.m. If you have a question about whether or not you are an essential employee, please contact your manager.
The Municipal Court of Atlanta will also have a delayed start of 10:00 a.m.
Fulton County Chairman John Eaves issued a statement saying:
"I am closely monitoring the situation related to the I-85 fire and bridge collapse. Fulton County has offered our support to the Georgia Department of Transportation and are working closely with the City of Atlanta. The staff of the Atlanta-Fulton Emergency Management Agency have been activated to assist.
We ask that commuters avoid the area while public safety personnel continue their response. Businesses should allow employees flexibility during commutes tomorrow and in coming days and weeks. I also encourage commuters to take advantage of MARTA, which will offer extended service.
Our special thanks to the firefighters and police officers on scene, whose quick work helped keep citizens safe during this unprecedented incident."