California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass held a press conference to provide updates regarding the fire that destroyed part of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles.
The blaze was first reported around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning in a storage yard near East 14th and Alameda streets. Flames quickly spread to a neighboring storage yard and eventually engulfed the freeway overpass above.
The fire was so hot that it melted some of the freeway’s steel guardrails and concrete pillars, fire officials said. It eventually spread to eight acres before being contained.
No homes were affected by the flames, as the area is largely industrial, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass said.
Gov. Newsom declared a local state of emergency Saturday, and on Sunday, it was announced that the freeway would remain closed until further notice.
Mayor Bass noted that the structural damage sustained by the freeway requires the same “level of urgency and effort” in the cleanup process as the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
“Unfortunately, there’s no reason to think that this is going to be over in a couple of days,” Bass said. “We cannot give you an estimate of time right now.”
Bass also said that the residents of the encampment underneath the freeway are being housed.
Newsom praised first responders’ immediate actions and said it is now time for the state to figure out “when the hell [the freeway is] going to be reopened.”
“That question will be determined on the basis of safety, and that will be determined over the course of the next many hours as the structural engineers…assess the specific damage,” Newsom said.
Gov. Newsom noted that the number of burned columns was getting “closer to 100.”
The “fundamental” question, Newsom noted, is whether or not the bridge deck needs to be replaced.
“Columns are a problem, but our ability to rebuild that is a much shorter time period than the bridge deck itself,” he said.
The governor said he is “intimately familiar” with the site, as it was the location of a large-scale encampment cleanup led by state officials in August 2022.
State officials are also “aware” of the site; they are currently in litigation with the current lessee and have issued several citations. A court date with the lessee, whose lease is expired, was already set for early 2024 before the fire broke out, Newsom said.
According to Gov. Newsom, by 6 a.m. Monday, the investigation into what started the fire will be completed.
Part of Sunday afternoon’s press conference can be viewed in the video player above.