Author Topic: I-85 Arson  (Read 1801 times)

yossarian22c

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I-85 Arson
« on: March 31, 2017, 09:42:05 PM »
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Authorities in Atlanta say investigators have questioned three people in connection with Thursday's fire that caused part of Interstate 85 to collapse. Two of the individuals have been released but a third is still in custody.

Atlanta Fire Rescue Sgt. Cortez Stafford identifies the third person as Basil Eleby, saying, "He is the individual we are holding responsible for the fire and Fire Investigators believe it was set maliciously." Stafford says investigators aren't releasing details on how the blaze was started. He says the other two individuals are charged with criminal trespass.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/31/522170988/i-85-bridge-collapse-in-atlanta-brings-headache-to-250-000-drivers-a-day

Seems like the fire was deliberately set, it will be interesting to see what the motive was.

Pete at Home

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2017, 02:20:06 AM »
Great.  One more obstacle to my visiting my son in Atlanta.  2/3 of visits get canceled for one stupid reason or another.  Tbat's right on the route.  3 hour drive turned into a 5 hour drive.  Hope my ride doesn't bail.

Crunch

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2017, 03:07:39 PM »
Did they ever determine what it was that burned so hot it brought down a highway overpass?  Last I heard it was PVC piping and fiber optic cable stored there. Seems awfully hard to get that to burn.

yossarian22c

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2017, 03:49:52 PM »
Not that I've seen reported but I have to think that they were storing something else there "off the books" that burns a lot easier and hotter than PVC and fiber optic cables.  Either that or the overpass really needed maintenance because the concrete and steel was already becoming structurally unsound.

Pete at Home

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 07:36:15 PM »
There are so many of these half stories floating around, stuff we never get the whole story on.

Wayward Son

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 11:18:26 AM »
But why do we need to get the "whole story?"

There is a civil engineering who is responsible for this bridge.  He (or she) needs to know the whole story, in order to repair the damage and to prevent a similar disaster from occurring in the future.  He needs to put the time and effort to dig down to the very core of the problem, through all the speculation and half-truths and blame-passing, down to the actual truth of the matter.  And he needs to report it to those in charge of him, so they can authorize corrective action.

We don't need to do that.

For one thing, that is why we hired him and his supervisors.  To make sure facts are found and addressed.

For another, we don't have the time, resources or often the expertise to come to any firm conclusion about exactly what happened.  Especially when there are fame-seekers and politicos who actively try to muddy the truth, for their own gain or just to create chaos.

Finally, it doesn't really matter to us.  We can't direct how the bridge needs to be fixed, nor how other bridges need to be retrofitted, or how new bridges need to be built.  Because, we don't have the time, resources, expertise or authority to do so.

The only reason it would matter is if those in charge are corrupt or incompetent, and won't do what needs to be done.

But, really, why would any of us suspect that?  Do we think that every engineering in this country is corrupt or incompetent?  Is every supervisor the same?  Is every politician charged with overseeing highway works similar?  Is every system in this country, designed to keep our infrastructure and society running, so corrupt and incompetent that we need to oversee every single step each system, because we know we never get the full story and those in charge will always lie to us?

Why do we believe that?  I mean, are you corrupt or incompetent?  Do you not do your job the very best that you can?  Would you cover-up the actual reasons for things for political and/or economic gain, even though it will hurt others or cost others money?  And do your bosses go along with it, or even encourage or require it of you?

I'm sure the answer is no.  Oh, yeah, others do it, but never you.  Not you, or you, or you.  Everyone here does the best job they can at the work they do.  And if you are responsible for the health and safety of others, you are extra careful.  You know you are.  Others may disagree at times, but in your heart you know you are.

So why has it become a reflective response to think that everyone else isn't?  That if we dig just a little deeper than what authorities are telling us, that we will find that the truth is far different from what we are told?  That everyone is lying to us, everyone is doing their job wrong, everyone is corrupt and incompetent and a liar, and we will never be told what the real story is.

This is why fake news is proliferating.  Because we don't trust those in charge to tell us the truth anymore, even though it is the reporter's job to get the facts, even though it is the engineer's job to tell the facts, even though it is the politician's job to work with the facts and respond to them appropriately.  We are always looking for that hidden truth that everyone else isn't telling us.  That fact that no one wants us to know.  And so we swallow the half-truths, the out-and-out lies, and the spins, because we want to believe that we have found the truth, the reality that is being hidden from us.

Sure, there are reporters, engineers and politicians that are corrupt, incompetent and liars.  Just look who's in charge of the EPA today. :)  I'm sure you can give your own examples.  But why do we question everything and everyone today?  Why do we assume that we never get the true story anymore.

Even for a bridge burning in some small corner of the U.S.? :(

Fenring

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 11:34:23 AM »
But why do we question everything and everyone today?  Why do we assume that we never get the true story anymore.

You seem to think this is about losing trust in particular individuals but that the remaining people should retain our trust. It has nothing to do with that, in fact. What has been undermined is trust in information itself, and that has been a long time coming and is entirely deserved. The hit job on trust has come from multiple angles including advertisers, corporate PR, politicians, Wall Street, and even agencies like the CIA (from way back at the Kennedy assassination). The attitude of "we'll just release a story and this will wash over" has come to a head and people realize that pretty much any story released is potential fiction, and especially so when there's a blatant motive and reward available for concocting fiction.

Have you heard the tale (of Darth Plagueis the Wise) of Barbara Honegger, Assistant to the chief domestic policy advisor to Reagan, who was taking minutes of a meeting in the West Wing and recorded this famous statement from CIA chief Bill Casey: ""We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." One might contest whether he really said this, but I have no problem accepting that he would have believed it in any case.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 11:39:57 AM by Fenring »

TheDeamon

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2017, 01:54:50 PM »
Not that I've seen reported but I have to think that they were storing something else there "off the books" that burns a lot easier and hotter than PVC and fiber optic cables.  Either that or the overpass really needed maintenance because the concrete and steel was already becoming structurally unsound.

Wouldn't even need to deliberately store it. Coils of pvc stacked tightly together + wind blown detrius(trash) and plant matter being allowed to accumulate and pile up against said piles of pvc + someone deciding to be a fire bug and splashing some gasoline around.

A little bit of gasoline goes a long ways towards getting all kinds of things to burn that aren't usually very easy to ignite.

But in this case, just setting fire to a pile of leaves with some plastic trash within it that was close enough to the PVC conduit may have been enough on its own.

Crunch

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2017, 03:19:26 PM »
Not that I've seen reported but I have to think that they were storing something else there "off the books" that burns a lot easier and hotter than PVC and fiber optic cables.  Either that or the overpass really needed maintenance because the concrete and steel was already becoming structurally unsound.

Wouldn't even need to deliberately store it. Coils of pvc stacked tightly together + wind blown detrius(trash) and plant matter being allowed to accumulate and pile up against said piles of pvc + someone deciding to be a fire bug and splashing some gasoline around.

A little bit of gasoline goes a long ways towards getting all kinds of things to burn that aren't usually very easy to ignite.

But in this case, just setting fire to a pile of leaves with some plastic trash within it that was close enough to the PVC conduit may have been enough on its own.

I don't know.  PVC has an ignition temperature between 435o and 550o C (it's considered "fire retardant") while gas burns at a temperature of about 260o C.  I think trash and leaves would not burn as hot as gasoline. To get PVC to ignite  would require a pretty significant accelerant, something more than gasoline and a pile of leaves/trash.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 03:22:00 PM by Crunch »

Crunch

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2017, 03:37:30 PM »
OK, looking around for the latest and it was not PVC pipes but high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes that were stored under the bridge.  HDPE has an ignition temperature of 349o C.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 03:41:33 PM by Crunch »

Wayward Son

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2017, 04:23:52 PM »
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The attitude of "we'll just release a story and this will wash over" has come to a head and people realize that pretty much any story released is potential fiction, and especially so when there's a blatant motive and reward available for concocting fiction.

While any story released has the potential to be fiction, I'm seeing people automatically assume it is fiction, especially if it goes against some preconceived bias.

Remember, coming up with motives and rewards, especially hidden motives and rewards, is trivial to do for anything.  So if someone wants to doubt something, one can always find a reason.

Fenring

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2017, 04:51:19 PM »
While any story released has the potential to be fiction, I'm seeing people automatically assume it is fiction, especially if it goes against some preconceived bias.

Remember, coming up with motives and rewards, especially hidden motives and rewards, is trivial to do for anything.  So if someone wants to doubt something, one can always find a reason.

What you're suggesting is indeed a direct by-product of the truth being rejected as a value unto itself. When the boy cries wolf too often and trust in communication breaks down, the next step, as you suggest, is to shop for narratives that sound the most attractive, since their aesthetic value is all that remains as a value once truth is no longer a value one expects to find. What we are experiencing now is not dissimilar to what German intelligence experienced in WWII as a result of the Double Cross system; the reliability of their reports was so poor that they didn't even have the basis to trust the information they did have. In such a scenario things will tend to devolve into infighting over what the actual truth is.

yossarian22c

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2017, 10:30:07 PM »
I'm not assuming any report is fiction.  I was just commenting that I was expecting the arson investigators to come back with a report that showed the presence of something that burns really hot.  I haven't seen (or been able to find) an official report from the fire marshal on the extent of the fire.  From Crunch's link I saw that the pipe has a pretty high combustion temperature, but I don't know how to look up how much energy is released when it burns.  I'm also curious as to what failed on the bridge, was it concrete failing or steel.  Concrete has a combustion temperature between 300-1000 degrees, which is plausible if the type of concrete used falls on the low end.  If it were the steel supports which don't melt until 1100 degrees I'm curious as to how the fire got hot enough long enough to weaken the steel.

If in the end it was a fire of the pipes (~350 degrees) with concrete that melts at about the same temperature there isn't really that much strange about the fire.  But it seems like from the extent of the damage that the fire burned much, much hotter than that and I didn't realize high density plastics realized that kind of energy when burning. 

If anyone has a link that explains that explains what part of the bridge failed or the thermodynamics of combusting HDPE I would be interested.

yossarian22c

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2017, 10:34:59 PM »
But why do we need to get the "whole story?"

Because I'm curious and just wanted to understand the thermodynamics of this fire because it didn't match what I (not a fire expert) expected to happen. 


TheDrake

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2017, 10:14:00 AM »
I would assume an investigation of this magnitude will take months to complete. Arson investigations in general aren't known for their speedy conclusions.



TheDeamon

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Re: I-85 Arson
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2017, 09:58:06 PM »
That's a dead link for me.