Fire Damage Shuts Down Interstate 10 Near Los Angeles

No Current Timeline for Reopening of Freeway, Says Mayor Karen Bass
Firefighter at LA's I-10
Firefighters douse the still smoldering fire under the I-10 Freeway overpass in Los Angeles on Nov. 11. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images via Bloomberg News)

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A stretch of Interstate 10 near downtown Los Angeles will be closed indefinitely after a fire beneath the roadway destroyed infrastructure last week.

“Unfortunately, there’s no reason to think this is going to be over in a couple of days,” Mayor Karen Bass said Nov. 12 during a press conference in Los Angeles, adding that there’s no current timeline for when the major freeway will reopen.

Residents should plan to work from home or take public transportation, as the area is expected to have long-term closures and traffic delays are near-certain. Traffic police will be stationed on roadways and will provide daily updates.

The road closures extend from Alameda Street to the East L.A. interchange, impacting traffic in both directions. Other stretches of I-10 are being detoured in the meantime.

“I want to emphasize that our efforts on this are going to have to be 24/7 to get this roadway back open,” California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin said. “I’m not going to understate the challenge here. It is significant.”

More than 164 L.A. firefighters and city officials worked through the night into Nov. 11 to extinguish what a CalTrans official called a “rubbish fire” that began when wooden pallets caught flame. No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Nov. 11 to unlock resources aimed at repairing the freeway.

“It’s safety first, speed second,” Newsom said during the Nov. 12 press conference.

About 300,000 vehicles a day go through the closed section of the freeway, he said. Close to 100 columns supporting approximately 400 feet of freeway were damaged in the blaze, Newsom said.

Bass said in a post on X that she has spoken with the governor as well as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the fire.

In June, a vehicle fire led to the collapse of an Interstate 95 bridge in Philadelphia, creating traffic challenges for a major artery along the East Coast. The six-lane stretch reopened 12 days later after a coordinated response by the federal, state and city governments.

Newsom cited the I-95 incident as a model of a rapid repair.

“But don’t compare the two,” the governor said. “The scale of this is substantially greater.”

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