Arson deemed cause of Los Angeles freeway fire, extensive repairs neededNovember 14, 2023
A fire that decimated a section of Interstate 10 outside Los Angeles was almost surely arson and will take three to five weeks to repair, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said. Fire officials had finished their investigation and had “made a determination, a preliminary determination, there was malice intent … that it was arson, and that it was done and set intentionally,” Newsom said at a press briefing late Monday. More than 160 firefighters from 26 companies and a helicopter extinguished fierce flames that raged through 8 acres with intense heat, melting some of the freeway’s steel guardrails. Newsom quickly declared a state of emergency. The fire broke out at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday. It took more than 160 firefighters from 26 companies and a helicopter to extinguish the fierce flames. They also kept the flames away from three buildings that were threatened by the flames, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Margaret Stewart said, adding that no one was injured. Overall, the blaze ravaged the equivalent of six football fields and devoured several civilian vehicles, a fire engine, and pallets in two storage yards. The towering flames left behind a wasteland of twisted guardrails and blackened, chipped concrete at the Interstate 10 overpass, as well as damage to about 100 highway support columns and supports for high-tension power lines. Newsom said the freeway segment appears to be structurally sound, but more testing is necessary to be sure. The closure of the highway could affect the flow of goods from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, which handle more than half of the goods coming into the U.S. Newsom mentioned that “that determination of who is responsible is an investigation that’s ongoing,” adding that investigators had some “preliminary tips.” Authorities asked people to use public transit or work remotely, and about 300,000 vehicles a day normally pass through that section of the freeway.