(KTLA) — Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday night after a massive fire shut down part of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. The affected stretch of freeway will remain closed until further notice, officials said.
The blaze was first reported early Saturday around 12:30 a.m. at a pallet yard underneath the freeway near East 14th and Alameda streets.
The flames quickly spread to neighboring storage yards and engulfed both sides of 14th Street underneath the 10, eventually melting some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and damaging firetrucks, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
More than 160 firefighters from 26 companies and a helicopter responded to battle the blaze.
Three nearby buildings were saved by fire crews, but there was still severe damage across the freeway. A homeless encampment underneath an overpass was forced to evacuate as flames engulfed the area and chunks of supporting concrete columns collapsed.
“The state is mobilizing resources and taking steps to ensure any necessary repairs are completed as soon as possible to minimize the impact on those traveling in and around Los Angeles,” Newsom said.
The declaration of a state emergency will facilitate “clean-up and repair work and direct Caltrans to formally request assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program, if appropriate,” according to the governor’s office.
The 10 Freeway remains shut down between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue and officials say the closure will last until further notice as Caltrans crews inspect the overpass’ structural integrity.
These interchanges are also either being diverted or remain closed to traffic:
- 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
Drivers headed to these areas should seek an alternate route of travel.
“I want to thank all of the first responders and firefighters working tirelessly to contain this fire,” Newsom said. “The state will assess damage, remove hazardous waste and begin repairs as soon as the site can be accessed. Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol will continue to provide updates as they become available.”
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass released a statement, saying in part:
“This evening, emergency crews will continue to assess the damages and how commuters, surrounding businesses and other travelers will be impacted in the future. I have spoken with United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and he assured Los Angeles that the White House stands at the ready to assist with whatever is needed. I have also been in touch with Governor Newsom and thank him for his assurance that the State will pull out all the stops to get this freeway repaired.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.