Fire Shuts Down Key Cali Highway Indefinitely
A significant fire erupted beneath an underpass in downtown Los Angeles at a homeless encampment, leading to the indefinite closure of the 10 freeway. The incident, which occurred on Saturday, impacted two storage areas beneath the freeway that also served as a sprawling homeless encampment.
The closure affects both westbound and eastbound lanes of the 10 freeway between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue, prompting concerns about the substantial traffic disruptions in the area. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, addressing the situation at a news conference, indicated that the freeway closure is expected to last for an extended period, urging residents to prepare for a prolonged impact.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, responded to the situation by declaring a state of emergency, aiming to expedite the repair process and alleviate the concerns of the millions of residents in the region. The closure, affecting approximately 300,000 daily commuters who use the 10 freeway, represents a considerable challenge for the transportation infrastructure in Southern California.
The reopening of the freeway depends on several preliminary steps. An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway, with completion expected by 6 a.m. Monday. Additionally, the process involves the mitigation of hazardous materials and a detailed structural analysis of the damaged portions before construction can commence. Engineers will scrutinize the freeway’s columns and bridge deck during this phase.
This freeway closure is noted as one of the most significant in Southern California since the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which caused damage to sections of the 10 and other routes. The shutdown is anticipated to intensify congestion on adjacent freeways where diverted traffic is rerouted, including the 5, 110, and 710.
California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin acknowledged the complexity of the repairs, emphasizing that it will be a substantial challenge for Caltrans structural engineers. The situation draws parallels with a prior incident in 2017 when a massive wildfire, originating from a homeless encampment, swept through affluent neighborhoods in Los Angeles, causing extensive damage and sparking debates about addressing homelessness in the city.
Anecdotally speaking I see around 3 freeway fires a month, all are related to homeless encampments. A homeless encampment in the hills sparked a wildfire a few years ago that almost burnt down my parents home. Out of curiosity I tried reporting an encampment near my work… https://t.co/bs3XbtBmyd
— Redux (@DSAchaw) November 13, 2023