Arson: Gov. Newsom Says Pallet Fire Under Freeway Not an Accident

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Yesterday, Beege wrote about the disaster that happened in LA over the weekend. A massive fire broke out under the I-10 freeway in a rented pallet storage yard. Even with 160 firefighters doing their best to put it out, the fire burned for three hours and did significant damage to dozens of concrete pillars that hold up the 10-lane freeway. Assessment is still going on to determine if the cooked section can be repaired or if it will need to be torn down and replaced. Either way it’s a disaster for LA traffic which is already known for being some of the worst in the country.


Suspicion immediately fell upon the homeless people who were living in the immediate vicinity. Homeless camp fires are extremely common in cities up and down the west coast. Sometimes they are the result of people just trying to keep warm and other times they are intentionally set by people as a way to settle disagreements. There was a similar fire in San Francisco just a few months ago. Authorities still haven’t said who was responsible but local residents had reported homeless camp fires in the area prior to the blaze.

Monday afternoon Gov. Newsom held a follow-up press conference in which he announced the fire appeared to be arson.

At 3:30 p.m. Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass participated in a press conference to discuss the blaze that has crippled the downtown commute for hundreds of thousands of Angelenos.

Newsom began the press conference by describing the fire as being set with “malice intent,” saying the fire burned within the fence line and appeared to be an act of arson.

Arson doesn’t rule out the homeless as suspects but it sounds like Newsom is pointing in the direction of the company that leased the site from the city. He identified them yesterday as Apex Development Inc.

“This guy and this organization, whoever the members of that particular organization are, have been bad actors,” Newsom said. “We’ve been in a litigious posture for some time. They stopped paying their rent, they’re out of compliance, and as was stated yesterday … they have been subleasing this site to at least five, maybe as many as six tenants, without authorization from Caltrans or authorization from our federal partners.”


Early indications are that the deck containing the actual freeway held up pretty well but some of the support pillars are in worse shape.

“Right now, we do not believe it will collapse,” John Yang, deputy district director for construction for the California Department of Transportation, said of the damaged section of the freeway Monday.

The structural assessment of I-10 is ongoing, but “the structural integrity of the deck appears to be much stronger than originally assessed,” California Governor Newsom said during a news conference Monday, citing preliminary testing…

A line of about 100 columns on the bridge damaged during the fire are being inspected as part of the process, Tony Tavares, director of the transportation department, said during the news conference.

This morning the good news is that the damaged section of the freeway will not have to be demolished, just repaired. That’s still going to take several weeks.

A stretch of Interstate 10 in Los Angeles that was seriously damaged in an act of arson does not need to be demolished and can be repaired in three to five weeks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday…

“I don’t want to see that five-week mark hit,” Newsom told reporters as he outlined the repair plan.

The city got lucky this time. If it had been necessary to tear this down it would have taken months to rebuild. As it is, we’ll have to wait and see if the city can actually get this done in 3-5 weeks. Until then, the 300,000 commuters who normally travel over this section of freeway every day are going to be more miserable than usual.


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