Monday, November 13, 2023
A substantial blaze at a storage yard in Southern California has resulted in the closure of a section of Interstate 10, a major traffic artery for downtown Los Angeles.
The fire, which engulfed a 200-by-200-foot storage yard containing pallets, trailers, and vehicles, prompted authorities to shut down the affected stretch of I-10 in both directions near Alameda Street.
Fire Chief Kristin Crowley revealed at a news conference that the fire reported just before 12:30 am on Saturday, spread under the freeway due to winds, igniting a secondary storage yard across the street.
The extensive blaze, spanning approximately 80,000 square feet, drew a response from over 160 firefighters who managed to save three nearby commercial buildings.
While several vehicles succumbed to the flames, Crowley reported no injuries, and the majority of the fire was extinguished within three hours. However, the damaged section of I-10 remains closed indefinitely, causing significant travel disruptions in the region.
California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Masir confirmed that the closure would persist without a specified reopening time. The impacted roadway's full restoration timeline remains uncertain, according to officials.
Laura Rubio-Cornejo, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, highlighted the expected "significant traffic impact" resulting from the closure, affecting daily commutes, school transport, and other activities in the area.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass acknowledged the potential repercussions, emphasising the inconvenience for residents needing to navigate the impacted region. The closure's effect on surrounding communities is anticipated to be substantial.
In response to the incident, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County. He assured that resources would be mobilised promptly to minimise the impact on travellers.
Newsom expressed concern about the substantial damage, stating that the fire's scale surpasses the collapse of a section of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia in June.
The investigation into the fire's cause is set to conclude by Monday morning, with hazmat teams working tirelessly to clean up the damage on Interstate 10.
Governor Newsom revealed that the site tenant is in violation of their lease, and the state is engaged in litigation to address concerns related to the lease expiration.
Structural engineers will assess the damage once the hazardous materials investigation concludes, with city and state officials working diligently to repair the freeway. Mayor Bass emphasised the urgency of the situation, urging residents to expect delays and explore alternative routes during the repairs.
The complex nature of the damage suggests that the restoration process will extend beyond a few days.