A major section of Interstate 10 that runs through Los Angeles will be closed indefinitely as a result of damage suffered from a fire that’s been determined to be caused by arson.
On Monday, authorities in California released this information about the closure of the major interstate, which has led to significant disruptions in traffic as well as potentially major negative economic repercussions.
Talking with reporters earlier this week, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom said investigators were trying to figure out how many people were involved in the suspected arson. He wouldn’t provide any further details, though.
Newsom, however, did say:
“I have to stress that we have determined what started the fire.”
On Saturday, the fire started in two storage lots that were located under I-10. The fire very quickly consumed some construction materials in the area, which ultimately caused major damage to the roadway above.
It caused deck guardrails to twist, columns to be chipped and charred, and much other structural damage.
It started at about 12:20 a.m., burning through many storage lots and destroying wooden pallets, power line support poles and parked cars in the area.
Luckily, no one has been reported from the incident, according to Kristin Crowley, the fire chief. That being said, 16 homeless people – including one woman who is pregnant – had to be relocated to a shelter.
Daniel Berlant, the fire marshal of California, said that state officials are making progress to identify the origin of the fire as well as its cause. However, he didn’t provide any information on whether they have any suspects at this point.
California officials actually compared the damage to the Northridge earthquake that happened in 1994. They said that the sheer complexity of the repairs that could be needed on the roadway could take a significant amount of time to fix.
Officials in the Biden administration have been briefed about the incident, since it’s expected that the closure of the portion of the roadway could have huge effects on how goods are transported from the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, which are crucial to trade in the U.S.
Karen Bass, the mayor of Los Angeles, urged all people to avoid the area that was affected and work from their home if possible, as the city’s infrastructure is likely to experience a significant strain as a result.
Newsom said that tests at first suggested that the strength of the freeway’s deck exceeded its initial assessment. Further evaluations of samples of both rebar and concrete will ultimately determine the full extent of replacements and/or repairs that are needed.
In speaking with The Associated Press, Shailen Bhatt, the head of the Federal Highway Administration, referred to the recent crash in Pennsylvania that caused a part of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia to collapse. He commented:
“The quicker we can get this open, the faster we can remove an impediment.”
Officials further said that federal funding and environment waivers would be necessary if the repairs are to happen in a timely manner.