Urgent Call for Alternative Transport as Fire Shuts Down L.A. Interstate

by Andrew Wright
Interstate Closure

Los Angeles drivers are being advised to prepare for prolonged traffic disruptions following a significant fire that led to the closure of a key elevated interstate near the city’s downtown area, according to statements made by officials on Sunday.

In the aftermath of the fire, specialized hazardous materials teams are working to clear debris from beneath Interstate 10. This is a prerequisite for engineering evaluations to ensure the structural integrity of the highway’s columns and deck, capable of handling the usual 300,000 vehicles per day. Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking at a press conference, highlighted the dual focus of the investigation: determining the fire’s cause and addressing hazardous materials and structural engineering concerns. The governor posed critical questions about the feasibility of reopening parts of the highway, retrofitting structural components, and maintaining the bridge deck’s integrity.

Governor Newsom described the response to these queries as an around-the-clock effort, but was unable to provide a definite timeline for the highway’s reopening.

As a result, commuters are being encouraged to telecommute or use public transportation for downtown Los Angeles commutes. The closure of I-10, spanning from Alameda Street to Santa Fe Avenue, is expected to significantly impact surrounding surface streets and major freeways, including State Route 60 and Interstate 5, as reported by the California Highway Patrol.

The investigation into the fire’s origin is ongoing. The fire, which was reported around 12:20 a.m. on Saturday, engulfed two storage lots located beneath the highway. The blaze consumed wooden pallets, parked vehicles, and support structures for high-tension power lines, as detailed by Fire Chief Kristin M. Crowley. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.

A large-scale response saw over 160 firefighters from 26 companies battling the fire, which spanned 8 acres (or about six football fields) and lasted for over three hours. The fire’s aftermath is evident in the charred and damaged columns of the highway, along with twisted and blackened guardrails on the deck.

Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday afternoon, instructing the state Department of Transportation to seek federal assistance.

Newsom also disclosed ongoing litigation with the business leasing the storage space where the fire originated. The lease had expired, and the business had been delinquent in its payments while subleasing the area. “This is a site and a lessee that were on our radar,” he stated.

California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin acknowledged the widespread practice of utilizing storage yards beneath highways both in California and nationwide. He indicated that this practice would be reexamined in light of the recent fire.

Mayor Karen Bass reported that at least 16 homeless individuals living under the highway were evacuated to shelters. There was no immediate evidence linking the fire’s start to the homeless encampment.

Drawing parallels to the Northridge earthquake in 1994, which caused extensive freeway damage, Mayor Bass cautioned that the disruption from this fire is likely to be long-term, with no quick resolution in sight.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Interstate Closure

What caused the closure of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles?

The closure of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles was caused by a significant fire that engulfed two storage lots beneath the highway, leading to structural concerns and the need for hazardous materials clearance.

How long will the highway remain closed?

Officials have not provided a definite timeline for when the highway might reopen, as extensive engineering assessments and repairs are required.

What are commuters advised to do during the closure?

Commuters are urged to work from home or use public transportation for their downtown Los Angeles commutes to alleviate traffic congestion.

Was there any reported injury related to the fire?

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire, despite its significant scale and the involvement of over 160 firefighters.

What steps are being taken to address the situation?

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and requested federal assistance. Additionally, the practice of using storage yards beneath highways is being reevaluated, and ongoing litigation with the business leasing the storage space is noted.

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InfoSeeker November 13, 2023 - 3:51 am

Storage yards under hwys? Who knew? Maybe rethink dat. Fire sad, but no injuries, good news.

NewsHound88 November 13, 2023 - 4:48 am

Gov Newsom declar emrgency. Bridge needs fixin, no idea wen hwy opens. Ugh, LA traffic!

TrafficJammer November 13, 2023 - 10:13 pm

Crazzy! Dat fire big truble 4 evry1 drivin in LA. Commutrs take publc transprt 4 ur sanity.

LACommuter23 November 13, 2023 - 11:04 pm

fire closed highway! what a mess. thnkful no injuries. gota take puplic transport now.


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