LA Freeway Damage Officially Ruled Arson

( – A fire over the weekend has severely damaged a section of the Los Angeles freeway, causing its closure while engineers and investigators assess whether repairs can be effectuated or if the only safe solution is to demolish and rebuild it. There’s no estimate yet how long repairs will take.

California Governor Gavin Newsom and State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant announced that they determined the blaze was caused by arson without elaborating on specifics like the method of initial combustion, or whether they had any suspects at this time.

They did state that they’ve confidently determined the fire was set intentionally and asked for assistance from the public to locate potential suspects for the crime. He did not add how investigators concluded arson was to blame.

The Santa Monica Freeway is a regular host to approximately 300,000 vehicles every day, and downtown is regularly inundated with traffic during normal operations. The fires singed support structures as well as the freeway deck itself and spread through storage yards which had stacked wood pallets piled beneath the freeway, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

They further said the blaze required the hard work of 164 firefighters from 26 different fire companies working multiple hours early Saturday morning to put it out.

A nearby homeless encampment was initially cleared of involvement, according to Mayor Karen Bass. She added that 16 of those living there were placed into housing. No one was injured.

The general manager for the city’s Transportation Department, Laura Rubio-Cornejo, said that residents were seemingly obeying requests to work from home and avoid unnecessary travel in the area.

Despite that minor traffic accidents could easily lead to gridlock due to the number of people taking side streets to access downtown.

Governor Gavin Newsom promised to reopen the freeway as soon as possible, saying that Caltran (the California Department of Transportation) was working 24/7 to determine what the next steps are. Director Tony Tavares said they’d taken core samples of concrete and rebar to evaluate their strength and that will determine whether the structure can be repaired or if a total rebuild is required.

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