Tue, Nov 14, 2023 12:25 PM
By Kenneth Schrupp, The Center Square
A major section of one of Los Angeles’ most busy freeways will be shut down for repairs for the next three to five weeks for a fire that California governor Gavin Newsom blames on arson.
The late-night blaze consumed a storage site under the freeway formerly leased out to an entity in arrears that appears to have sublet the space out to other entities to store, among other items, pallets, hand sanitizer and other flammable objects.
“They made a preliminary determination there was malice intent," Newsom said in a news conference. "This fire occurred within the fence line ... that it was arson and that it was done and set intentionally."
According to City of Los Angeles officials, there were 16 homeless individuals living under the highway in the immediate area, and those individuals have since been given shelter. When firefighters first arrived on scene, they were responding to what was reported as a rubbish fire.” However, this update from the governor suggests the fire may not be connected to the encampment.
Earlier, Newsom shared the site of the fire is owned by the California Department of Transportation but that another entity had been continuing to use the space under an expired lease, and that said entity is in arrears and had been subleasing that space to someone else.
The fire burned hot enough to damage the concrete and steel supports holding up the I-10 freeway, which carries 300,000 cars per day between the city’s more affordable residential exurbs and the major jobs centers downtown, in Hollywood and the Westside. Though LA Metro increased transit service to accommodate increased demand, most commuters are continuing to drive, leaving commuters either taking surface streets or all piling onto the remaining open freeways on heavily burdened detour routes.
“Based on preliminary sample results, we expect the I-10 Freeway to be reopened to traffic in weeks as opposed to months,” said City of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass in a public statement. “Crews are working urgently day and night to get this done.”
In Philadelphia, where a bridge collapse on I-95 was announced to potentially take “months” to repair, workers were able to restore the bridge in just 12 days, working 24/7 to do so.