One of the busiest freeway sections in the U.S. is closed indefinitely in Los Angeles due to extensive damage caused by a fire underneath at a large storage yard.
City firefighters responded at 12:22 a.m. November 11 to the fire south of downtown underneath the Interstate 10 freeway in the 1700 block of East 14th Street. Pallets, trailers and vehicles were on fire, and the fire soon spread to another storage yard across the street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The fire eventually spread over nearly eight acres. (See video at the end of this story of the blaze.)
“Due to the volume of fire under the freeway, they had limited access and faced challenges effectively hitting the blaze,” the LAFD reported. “While crews simultaneously defended three different commercial buildings threatened by the fire, firefighters also had to work around downed high-tension wires when a cross arm fell on 14th Street, potentially energizing the water flowing in the gutter.”
Most of the fire was extinguished within three hours, and Caltrans engineers were able to begin a damage assessment, LAFD said. As of November 13, the damage was still being assessed, with no timeline yet on when the freeway section between 110 Freeway and Alameda Street, traveled by 300,000 vehicles a day, could reopen.
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass said November 13 that engineers had worked all night and were continuing to work to “determine our path forward.” She added that the closure was disrupting most every aspect of residents’ lives and business operations, and she was seeking a speedy response with no bureaucratic red tape.
Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency and reached out for federal assistance.
The state fire marshal is expected to complete its investigation November 13, according to Caltrans Secretary Toks Omishakin. He said Caltrans maintenance and structural teams have been at the site taking core samples of the structure to determine the conditions of the bridge deck and columns.
LAFD video footage from the November 11 fire: