Massive Fire Prompts Los Angeles to Urge Public Transit Use as Interstate Closes

by Joshua Brown
LA Freeway Closure

In the wake of a significant fire over the weekend that led to the closure of a key elevated interstate near downtown Los Angeles, motorists have been advised to brace themselves for potential traffic challenges as they commence their Monday morning routines.

Observations from television news helicopters indicated a noticeable reduction in freeway traffic around downtown, likely a result of commuters paying heed to prior warnings.

Rafael Molina, Deputy District Director for Traffic at the California Department of Transportation, commented, “From the traffic data we analyzed this morning, I am relieved to report that traffic congestion was somewhat less than usual. Nonetheless, I urge everyone to avoid downtown Los Angeles if it’s not absolutely necessary.”

Early morning cell phone alerts reminded residents to consider alternative commuting options and prepare for expected delays caused by the fire’s effect on Interstate 10.

Additional Report: Major Highway Closure in Los Angeles Due to Fire

Specialized teams are currently removing debris from under the elevated freeway. These efforts are crucial for enabling engineers to assess and reinforce the infrastructure, ensuring it can sustain the daily flow of approximately 300,000 vehicles, as shared in a morning press conference. Installation of temporary supports is also underway.

Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking at a Sunday press conference, emphasized, “This situation is not only about investigating the fire’s origin but also involves hazardous materials and structural engineering assessments. We are exploring whether partial lane openings are feasible and whether the bridge deck remains sound for traffic.”

Newsom described the ongoing operations as round-the-clock, but a clear timeline for reopening the highway remains unconfirmed.

Officials are encouraging people to either work remotely or use public transportation to enter downtown Los Angeles. The disruption on the mile-long segment of I-10, spanning from Alameda Street to Santa Fe Avenue, is expected to impact surrounding surface streets and major freeways like State Route 60 and Interstate 5, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Investigators are still determining the cause of the fire. Fire Chief Kristin Crowley reported that the flames, which started around 12:20 a.m. on Saturday, engulfed two storage lots beneath the highway, burning vehicles, wooden pallets, and support structures for power lines. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

The fire, tackled by over 160 firefighters from numerous companies, covered an area of 8 acres and lasted approximately three hours. It left visible damage to the highway’s columns and guardrails.

Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday and has sought federal aid. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is also coordinating with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for additional support.

Newsom mentioned ongoing legal issues with the lessee of the storage site where the fire originated, citing expired leases and payment delinquencies.

California’s Secretary of Transportation, Toks Omishakin, noted that such storage practices under highways are common, but this incident may lead to reevaluation.

Mayor Bass reported that about 16 homeless individuals residing under the highway were evacuated to shelters. There’s no immediate evidence suggesting the fire originated from the encampment. She likened the fire’s potential long-term effects to the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which caused extensive freeway damage, remarking, “Unfortunately, this situation is unlikely to resolve in just a few days.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about LA Interstate Fire

What prompted Los Angeles to urge public transportation use recently?

A massive fire over the weekend led to the closure of a major elevated interstate near downtown Los Angeles, causing potential traffic challenges and prompting officials to advise residents to use public transportation or work from home.

How did the fire affect traffic in downtown Los Angeles?

Observations indicated a noticeable reduction in freeway traffic around downtown, likely due to commuters heeding warnings to avoid the area. The closure of Interstate 10 is expected to impact surrounding surface streets and other key freeways.

What are the ongoing efforts to address the interstate closure?

Specialized teams are clearing debris from under the freeway, and engineers are assessing and reinforcing the infrastructure to ensure it can sustain its usual traffic load. Temporary support structures are also being installed.

What is the status of the investigation into the cause of the fire?

The cause of the fire, which started in an industrial area beneath the highway and burned parked cars and wooden pallets, remains under investigation. There is no immediate indication that the blaze began at a nearby homeless encampment.

Has the state government responded to the fire and its aftermath?

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and is coordinating with federal authorities for assistance. Ongoing legal issues with the lessee of the storage site where the fire originated are also being addressed.

More about LA Interstate Fire

  • Los Angeles Traffic Advisory
  • Interstate 10 Closure Information
  • Fire Impact on Los Angeles Commute
  • Structural Assessment of LA Freeways
  • Governor Newsom’s Response to LA Fire
  • Safety Measures for Under-Freeway Storage

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RJ_The_Traveler November 13, 2023 - 11:12 pm

This is why I always prefer public transport in LA, you never know when the roads will be blocked or something crazy happens.

JessieB November 14, 2023 - 4:59 am

they really need to check those storage areas more often, can’t believe it led to such a huge fire under the highway!!

KarenInLA November 14, 2023 - 6:05 am

Such a mess, I heard about this on the news. Hope everyone stays safe and finds alternate routes. This city’s traffic is already bad enough…

Mike237 November 14, 2023 - 8:31 am

Wow, this fire sounds terrible! Glad to see there’s no injuries reported. Hope they fix that freeway soon, traffic’s gonna be a nightmare!


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