Fire shuts down 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles indefinitely

A portion of the 10 Freeway remains closed in both directions in downtown Los Angeles due to a fire, possibly caused by arson, under a bridge that broke out early Saturday morning, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a State of Emergency in Los Angeles County to help with cleanup.

"I-10 will be FULLY CLOSED until further notice between the East LA Connector & Alameda St. due to a fire that damaged the freeway." said CalTrans in a statement on X.

Officials also urged Angelenos to avoid the area, expect major delays and seek alternate routes to events in the downtown area.

An estimate as to when this portion of the freeway would reopen could not be provided at this time, according to LAFD Public Information Officer David Ortiz. The freeway must complete a rigorous safety inspection before drivers are allowed back in the area, said Ortiz.

Over 100 firefighters worked to contain and extinguish a major emergency fire that started in one downtown pallet yard Saturday, and quickly spread to another, eventually consuming an entire fire engine that became stuck in its path.

The fire was first reported just before 12:30 a.m. in the 1700 block of East 14th Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The first pallet yard was approximately 40,000 square feet and was fully engulfed by flames, including multiple trailers, authorities said.

The flames spread to a second pallet yard of similar size between Lawrence and Elwood streets, according to officials.

"Firefighters have successfully defended three exposed commercial buildings from fire extension," said an LAFD official.

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A group attempts to salvage encampment belongings from fire.

The first pallet yard was under the 10 Freeway, so the California Highway Patrol issued an alert at 1:19 a.m., shutting down the freeway in both eastbound and westbound directions at Alameda St., diverting eastbound traffic at Alameda St. and westbound at Santa Fe Ave.

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Officials began clean up and inspection of the area impacted by the 10 freeway fire on Saturday morning.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore reported that city officials are working with Caltrans and the CHP in the structural assessment of the Santa Monica Freeway at Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue.

The first fire engine on the scene became stuck under the freeway overpass, according to officials. It burned in the blaze.

On Saturday night, the CHP detailed the detours that would be in effect while the portion of the 10 Freeway remains closed. The 5 Freeway and SR-60 heading into downtown LA are being diverted to US-101 and the eastbound 10 Freeway. All traffic is being diverted off the 10 at Alameda Street. 

Newsom's emergency order will direct Caltrans to request assistance through the Federal Highway Administration's Emergency Relief Program.

"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.

In a statement Saturday, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said "I have directed all city departments to immediately plan for how to address increased traffic due to this closure to best mitigate the impact on Angelenos and we will continue to urgently coordinate with our state partners to resolve this issue for not only the millions who use this freeway, but also for those who live and work in the surrounding areas."

After two-plus days of preliminary rounds of investigations, Governor Gavin Newsom revealed on November 13 that arson may have been the cause of the Nov. 11 fire.

"There was malice intent that this fire occurred within the fence line of the facility you see behind me that it was arson and that it was done and set intentionally," Newsom said on November 13. 

City News Service contributed to this report.