Southern California drivers may face travel problems this week after a large warehouse fire over the weekend closed part of Interstate 10, one of the main thoroughfares from downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.
A section of I-10, also known as the Santa Monica Freeway, was damaged and remained closed Sunday in both directions near Alameda Street in Los Angeles, a city well known for its traffic congestion problems.
Shortly before 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Los Angeles firefighters received reports of a fire in a 200-foot by 200-foot storage yard “with pallets, trailers and vehicles well involved in the fire along with buildings exposed,” said Fire Chief Kristin. » Crowley said during a press conference on Sunday.
“The wind pushed the heat and flames under the highway, and across the street ignited a secondary storage yard,” Crowley said.
The duration of the fire covered approximately 80,000 square feet, according to firefighters. More than 160 firefighters responded, Crowley said.
Several vehicles were also destroyed in the fire, but firefighters said they were able to save three nearby commercial buildings.
Much of the fire was extinguished less than three hours after the incident began, according to Crowley, who added that there were no injuries.
California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Masir told CNN that the closed portion of I-10 “will remain closed until further notice, and there is currently no estimated time for reopening.”
There is currently no timetable for when the road will be fully repaired, officials said.
Laura Rubio-Cornejo, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said during a news conference Sunday that the closure is expected to create “a significant traffic impact” in the area.
Caltrans District 7/AP
A Los Angeles firefighter uses a robotic hose to extinguish a fire under Interstate 10 that severely damaged a downtown Los Angeles overpass on Saturday.
“We know the impact this fire will have on surrounding communities as people have to drive to work, school and other activities,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said Sunday.
Authorities say they are investigating the stability of the highway, which remains closed.
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County in response to the fire.
“The state is mobilizing resources and taking steps to ensure that all necessary repairs are completed as quickly as possible to minimize the impact on those traveling in and around Los Angeles,” Newsom said in a written statement .
The investigation into the cause of the fire will conclude Monday morning, Newsom said during Sunday’s news conference.
Hazmat crews will work around the clock to clean up damage on Interstate 10, according to Newsom, who said the extent of damage from the fire is “considerably greater” than that caused by the fire. collapse of a portion of Interstate 95 in Philadelphia in June.
“You name it, we’ve seen it stored at this site,” said Newsom, who briefly visited the premises. Wooden pallets, cars filled with gasoline and crates of oranges were all found under the Los Angeles Bridge, officials said.
When asked by reporters why flammable materials were allowed to be stored under the bridge, the governor replied: “All of that is being evaluated.” »
Newsom said the site’s tenant violated its lease. “We are in litigation, their lease has expired and we have been aggressive in addressing concerns related to the lease itself,” he said.
According to Newsom, officials believe the tenant “sublet the space…with multiple sublets, that’s part of the dispute.”
Once the hazardous materials investigation is complete, structural engineers will be able to move in to determine the extent of the damage caused by the fire, city and state officials said.
On Sunday evening, Bass stressed that the fire and damage to Interstate 10 “represented an emergency.”
“We are working night and day to make the necessary repairs to restore the highway,” the mayor said during a press briefing on traffic detours, where she asked travelers to plan for delays and search for alternative routes.
“I have to call on all Angelenos” to come together, the mayor urged, adding that the situation will not be “resolved in one or two days.”
CNN’s Travis Nichols contributed to this report.