California Governor Gavin Newsom declared Monday that the enormous fire causing the indefinite closure of sections of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles was arson.
At a news conference, Newsom stated, “A preliminary investigation found there was ‘malice intent,’… done and set intentionally.” While an ongoing investigation is underway, the governor did not disclose any information regarding suspects or leads.
The closure of the major traffic artery has been described as a “crisis” by Mayor Karen Bass, exacerbating the city’s notorious traffic problems. Commuters have been urged to prepare for delays and seek alternative routes while the interstate remains shut down near Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles.
With over 300,000 people travelling through this freeway corridor daily, the impact on Angelenos’s economy, health, safety, and daily life is substantial. The closure, resulting from a fire at a storage yard that spread under the freeway, has raised concerns about the safety of the roadway and the potential timeline for reopening.
Governor Newsom has declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County, emphasising the need for urgent repairs. The Federal Highway Administrator is expected in Los Angeles to assess the situation.
The cause of the fire remains unclear, and while the structural integrity of the bridge appears stronger than initially assessed, further testing is ongoing to determine the extent of the damage and the necessary repair strategy.
Hazmat teams are actively working to clean up the damage, with the governor highlighting the scale of the fire’s impact as “substantially greater” than a previous incident in Philadelphia. The site’s tenant is currently in violation of their lease, and legal actions are being pursued.
As the city grapples with the aftermath of this deliberate act, the closure of Interstate 10 remains a significant challenge, affecting daily life and transportation in Los Angeles.