10 Freeway closed in DTLA after massive fire at storage yard; state of emergency declared

Sunday, November 12, 2023
State of emergency declared after large fire shuts down 10 Fwy in DTLA
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to help facilitate cleanup and repairs after a storage yard fire shut down the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency in Los Angeles County Saturday night to help facilitate cleanup and repairs after a massive storage yard fire shut down portion of the 10 Freeway in both directions.

Note: Our coverage of the fire and freeway closure has moved here.

The fire was first reported at 12:22 a.m. in the 1700 block of East 14th Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. It would eventually go on to burn 8 acres - the equivalent of six football fields.

The first storage yard was 40,000-square-feet and was fully involved with flames that engulfed multiple trailers, the Fire Department said. The flames spread to a storage yard of similar size between Lawrence and Elwood streets, and consumed a fire engine that became stuck in their path. Several civilian vehicles were also destroyed by the inferno.

"Firefighters have successfully defended three exposed commercial buildings from fire extension," the LAFD said in a statement. No injuries were reported.

The Department of Water and Power assisted by boosting water pressure in the area for the high volume needed, officials said. The agency also dealt with a cross arm of energized high-tension wire that fell on 14th Street.

The first storage yard is located under the 10 Freeway. The California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert at 1:19 a.m., shutting down the interstate in both eastbound and westbound directions at Alameda Street.

Traffic was backed up for miles in both directions. The CHP was diverting eastbound traffic at Alameda Street and westbound vehicles at Santa Fe Avenue.

By 2:30 a.m., pallets in both yards were mostly consumed by the flames, and firefighters used bulldozers to move debris and put out hot spots.

Daybreak revealed twisted guardrails and blackened, chipped concrete at the freeway overpass, located in the heart of an industrial area.

Caltrans engineers were on scene to assess damage to the freeway and determine whether it was safe to reopen.

"If it's just the concrete that's what we call spalled -- chipped off -- there might be an opportunity just to go in and do some cosmetic fixes," Caltrans spokeswoman Lauren Wonder told ABC7. "If it's gone down to the rebar and there's some concern about the structural integrity of the bridge, we would need to keep any traffic load off of the structure and then that would be more extensive repairs."

The LAFD's Fire Engine 17 was the first on the scene and became stuck under the freeway overpass, officials said. It became engulfed by the blaze and was destroyed by the flames.

The freeway is expected to remain closed at the scene for at least 24 hours, Caltrans said.

Impact on drivers and nearby businesses

Mayor Karen Bass issued a statement Saturday evening, saying emergency crews will continue to assess the damages throughout the night.

"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."

She said she has spoken with U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who says the White House is ready to assist.

"During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, CalTrans worked around the clock to complete emergency repairs to the freeways, and this structural damage calls for the same level of urgency and effort," Bass said.

Anyone planning to attend major sporting events in or around downtown L.A., you may want to seek an alternate route or plan for delays.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.