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L.A. Freeway Closed Indefinitely After Massive Fire Compromises Structure

  California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the weekend after a massive fire erupted at a homeless enca...

 California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency over the weekend after a massive fire erupted at a homeless encampment beneath a major freeway near downtown Los Angeles — closing the thoroughfare’s now compromised structure indefinitely and impacting hundreds of thousands of commuters.

“The state is mobilizing resources and taking steps to ensure any necessary repairs are completed as soon as possible to minimize the impact on those traveling in and around Los Angeles,” Newsom said in a news release.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, the blaze started around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday under Interstate 10 and quickly spread to a storage facility filled with pallets, trailers, and vehicles. Authorities said the flames engulfed both sides of 14th Street underneath the portion of the freeway, melted steel guardrails, and damaged a number of firetrucks.

“The real problem is what lies underneath, that’s the bridge deck — that’s the primary focus now of our investigation,” Newsom said during a press conference. “We believe a lot of that did burn, how that may have impacted that structure.”

LAFD authorities said 164 firefighters battled the flames through the night to extinguish the fire and defend three nearby commercial buildings from damage.

Fire Chief Kristin Crowley said at a news conference Sunday reported by CNN that “wind pushed the heat and the flames under the freeway, and across the street ignited a secondary storage yard.”

Crowley reportedly said the fire covered about 80,000 square feet and that crews extinguished much of the blaze in less than three hours. No injuries were reported.

David Ortiz, public information officer for LAFD, reportedly said a large homeless encampment with tents and RV’s dwelled underneath the freeway where the fire started.

A street vendor nearby told NBC he heard “many explosions” before and during the freeway inferno.

Although officials say the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, many residents have speculated online that it likely started in the homeless encampment.

Local media reported that the portion of the freeway between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue — about a seven-mile stretch of road — will remain closed indefinitely, creating a traffic nightmare for an estimated 300,000 commuters.

Los Angeles Democratic Mayor Karen Bass said during a news conference on Sunday that city officials do not have a timeline for when the freeway could reopen and that the structural damage “calls for the same urgency and effort” as the Northridge earthquake of 1994.

“For those of you that remember the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Caltrans worked around the clock to complete emergency repairs to the freeways,” said Bass. “And this structural damage calls for the same level of urgency and effort.”


“Unfortunately, there’s no reason to think that this is going to be over in a couple of days,” Bass added. “We cannot give you an estimate of time right now.”

Bass also asked employers in downtown Los Angeles to suggest their employees work from home.

It’s still being determined how long the interstate will remain closed, but some officials estimate it could take up to 12 weeks while the California Department of Transportation (CALTrans) repairs the damaged bridge.

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