A large fire shut down part of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles early Saturday morning, and the closure will remain in place until further notice, officials said.
The blaze was first reported around 12:30 a.m. at a storage yard near East 14th and Alameda streets and quickly spread to neighboring storage yards, preliminary indication from the Los Angeles Fire Department indicated.
Fire had engulfed both sides of 14th Street underneath the 10, and the heat was so intense that it melted some of the freeway’s steel guardrails, according to LAFD Public Information Officer David Ortiz.
“Firefighters mounted a very heroic defense against this fire, and they saved three buildings they were looking to protect,” Ortiz told KTLA 5’s Erin Myers. “But the flame lengths were to the point where…steel was melted [and] concrete is falling.”
More than 160 firefighters from 26 companies and a helicopter were brought out to battle the blaze, which erupted near a pallet yard underneath the freeway.
The 10 is shut down between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, and officials say the closure will last more than 24 hours while Caltrans crews inspect the structural integrity of the overpass.
“If you’re coming out of downtown, everything is being diverted on the 10 East at Alameda,” said Roberto Gomez with the California Highway Patrol. “If you’re coming into downtown, the East L.A. interchange is completely being diverted.”
According to Officer Gomez, the following interchanges are either being diverted or are completely shut down:
- 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 Avenue
- The eastbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Alameda Street
- The westbound 10 Freeway on-ramp at Santa Fe Avenue
“Take alternate routes and expect delays,” Gomez said. “Please be patient.”
Residents of a homeless encampment underneath the overpass were able to escape with no injuries, according to fire officials.
Several vehicles and trailers parked on the street nearby were completely torched, video shows. A fire engine also sustained heavy damage.
LADWP officials boosted the water pressure in the area to compensate for the high volume needed to deal with the fire, authorities said.
Firefighters were seen putting out hot spots and flareups as of 10 a.m. Saturday. Caltrans crews cannot begin to inspect the structure until the flames are completely extinguished.
“We don’t know if there are hazardous materials in there, so once the fire gets put out, our hazardous teams will have to go in and ensure that it is safe for the structural engineers to go in and check,” said Lauren Wonder with Caltrans. “They will do hammer tests and visual tests to get a sense of the strength and the structural integrity of the bridge, then we can figure out whether we just have to replace the concrete or actually go in and replace rebar.”
According to LAFD Public Information Officer David Ortiz, despite a firefighting robot and an excavator being deployed, crews are expected to be out through Saturday morning and into the afternoon.