Massive storage yard fire closes major freeway in Los Angeles

ByEric Resendiz KABC logo
Sunday, November 12, 2023
Massive storage yard fire closes major freeway in Southern California
Crews were seen battling a large I-10 fire that started at a storage yard in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES -- A portion of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles remained shut down in both directions Sunday as crews continued to assess the damage caused by a massive fire at a storage yard.

More than 100 firefighters battled the fire that broke out early Saturday morning at a storage yard under the freeway in the 1700 block of East 14th Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. It would eventually go on to burn 8 acres - the equivalent of six football fields.

At one point, the flames spread to a storage yard of similar size between Lawrence and Elwood streets, and consumed a fire engine that became stuck in their path. Several civilian vehicles were also destroyed by the inferno.

Pallets in both yards were mostly consumed by the large flames that also engulfed portions of the freeway, vehicles and other materials. The fire prompted the freeway to be shut down from Alameda Street to the East Los Angeles Interchange until further notice.

When will the 10 Freeway reopen?

More than 24 hours after it started, Caltrans officials said they were still assessing the damage, and could not say when the freeway would reopen. Meanwhile, there were concerns the ongoing closure could wreak even more havoc on Monday morning's commute.

"We're seeing a lot of... concrete that's flaked off the columns. The underside of the bridge deck may be compromised," said Caltrans spokesperson Lauren Wonder. "It's sort of a waiting situation right now. We don't have an estimated time of opening but Caltrans wants to ensure that this bridge is safe to put traffic back on it."

Wonder said if the damage is mostly cosmetic, traffic could potentially resume on the bridge.

"If it's rebar, then we cannot put traffic load on there, and it may take a week... a month. It may take less time," she said.

A hazmat team was on scene Sunday to test materials under the the freeway. Those results will then determine whether engineers can access the site and decide what repairs need to be done, said Caltrans public information officer Jim Medina.

State of Emergency declared

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass took a tour of the damage Saturday as Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency in Los Angeles County to help facilitate cleanup and repairs.

Bass is expected to provide an update on the situation during a press conference around noon Sunday.

"I have directed all city departments to immediately plan for how to address increased traffic due to this closure to best mitigate the impact on Angelenos and we will continue to urgently coordinate with our state partners to resolve this issue for not only the millions who use this freeway, but also for those who live and work in the surrounding areas."

She said she has spoken with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who says the White House is ready assist.

"During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, CalTrans worked around the clock to complete emergency repairs to the freeways, and this structural damage calls for the same level of urgency and effort," Bass said.

Anyone planning to attend major sporting events in or around downtown L.A., you may want to seek an alternate route or plan for delays.