‘There was malicious intent’: Gov. Newsom says arson caused massive fire under I-10 in downtown Los Angeles

By | November 14, 2023

A preliminary investigation made it possible to determine destructive fire that indefinitely closed I-10 in downtown Los Angeles was intentionally launched with “malicious intent,” California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday afternoon.

Los Angeles, California, Sunday, November 12, 2023 – Aerial views of the 10 Freeway one day after a large pallet fire burned below, closing the highway to traffic. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Robert Gauthier

“They made a preliminary determination that there was malicious intent,” Newsom said of the arson investigation. “This fire happened inside the fence…that it was an arson and it was caused and started intentionally.”

CalFire detectives are still working to determine who started the fire.

“This is an investigation that can be aided by residents of the area, not just those who may have been nearby witnesses,” Newsom said, asking the public to come forward if they have any tips on anyone. one involved in starting the fire.

People with information can contact an anonymous tip line at 1-800-468-4408.

Mayor Karen Bass, who also spoke at the news conference, was careful to urge the public not to jump to conclusions that the fire was started by homeless people in the area, 16 of whom lived in the immediate vicinity when the fire broke out. SATURDAY.

“There is no reason to assume that the origin of this fire, or the reason this fire occurred, was due to the presence of homeless people nearby,” she said.

Those 16 unhoused people were provided temporary housing, Bass noted.

Newsom revealed that crews are still working around the clock and structural analysis is still underway. However, they were able to learn that the highway deck, about which they expressed concern, is “much stronger than initially assessed.”

Despite this, work will continue in the coming days to ensure that the road is completely safe before traffic returns.

Surveyors say almost 100 highway columns were damaged by the fire, with at least nine seriously affected. Crews are working to reinforce the highway deck while repairing damaged portions of the structure.

Further sample testing is underway to determine “whether we take this down and replace it or whether we continue with renovation, repairs and bracing,” Newsom said.

The massive fire, which was first reported as a “garbage fire” around 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning, broke out in a large warehouse under the highway, burning pallets, trailers and vehicles stored in The area.

As a result, the freeway, which is one of the main routes into downtown Los Angeles, has been closed since early Saturday morning, creating a a traffic nightmare for thousands of commuters Monday morning.

It is still unclear when the road will be reopened.

On Sunday, Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency the incident in order to obtain the funding and resources necessary for the repair as quickly as possible.

Apex Development, the Calabasas-based owner of the property where the fire broke out Saturday, was not available for comment when approached by KCAL News.

Newsom says Apex Development members “have been bad actors” and have been engaged in a contentious battle with the state for “some time.”

He claims the company sublet the property to six tenants without permission, stopped paying rent and failed to comply with state regulations.

“What was legally granted to this tenant, and remember, they have an illegal detention for a reason, is the open storage – broadly defined – of non-flammable materials, non-explosive materials and vehicles, vehicle operation,” Newsom said. “We saw these vehicles and we certainly saw a lot of pallets and we certainly saw a lot of open storage.”

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