After a large blaze under the 10 Freeway this weekend, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and other local, state and federal officials are promising to fix the freeway as soon as possible, though how long that will take remains to be seen.
The officials held a pair of news conferences Monday morning to update the public on the status of the investigation into the blaze and to assure the public that work is continuing “urgently” on the vital roadway.
“To the 300,000 people who would normally drive on this stretch of the 10 and to those who live, work or have appointments or schools in the area, as we made clear yesterday, this was a huge fire and the damage will not be fixed in an instant,” Bass said during her 6 a.m. address.
“Engineers have worked all night and are working right now to determine our path forward,” Bass continued. “I have made it clear with our local, state and federal partners that any unnecessary bureaucracy or delays are not happening here.”
How long the freeway would be shut down remains unclear after the massive pallet yard fire over the weekend that prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency to help facilitate cleanup and repairs.
The fire was first reported early Saturday around 12:30 a.m. near East 14th and Alameda streets underneath the freeway. It engulfed both sides of 14th Street underneath the 10, eventually melting some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and damaging firetrucks.
The state fire marshal along with CalFire completed its investigation into the cause of the fire Monday morning, California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin said during the news conference, though the exact cause of the fire has not been definitively determined.
“It’s too early to say how exactly the fire started. Until we get all that information from Calfire and the state fire marshall, once we get that information and feel that it’s been fully assessed, we’ll share that information with all of you and the full public as well,” Omishakin said.
The hazmat assessment was also mostly complete, which has allowed structural engineers the ability to begin their work.
“They are looking at core samples of the structure to see again what full condition the bridge is in, the bridge deck and the columns,” Omishakin said.
The blaze forced officials to close the freeway between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue in both directions and prompted several interchanges to be shut down.
The following closures will remain in place until further notice:
- Northbound 5 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- Southbound 5 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- Westbound 60 Freeway to westbound 10 Freeway
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Soto Street
- The eastbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Alameda Street
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Santa Fe Avenue
Few details were initially provided about the entity leasing the property but the governor said their lease had expired and that litigation was ongoing. The entity has not been named by officials.
There were also reports that more than a dozen people were living at an encampment near where the fire started. Investigators have not determined if the encampment was connected to the fire.
The people living in the encampment have been put into housing, according to the mayor, and no injuries were reported.
Bass listed three important things Monday morning that Angelenos traveling through the area should be aware of before leaving their homes:
- Check your commutes
- Unless you have to enter downtown, stay on the freeways. “There will be clear signage routing around the closure and those routes are the best way through,” Bass said.
- Consider public transportation. Information can be found at metro.net.
Omishakin said information will continue to be released at twice-daily news conferences beginning at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Angelenos are encouraged to stay updated on road closures, alternate route suggestions, additional transportation options and freeway repair estimates from Caltrans by regularly visiting L.A.’s Emergency Management Department website.