California Governor Gavin Newsom revealed on Monday afternoon that preliminary investigations expose the recent destructive fire that caused the indefinite shutdown of the I-10 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles as the result of arson.
“Investigators have preliminarily determined that the fire was intentionally set with malicious intent," Newsom confirmed. He then appealed to the public to help investigators identify the culprit, stating, "This investigation can greatly benefit from the assistance not only of potential witnesses, but also the general public in the region." Information can be shared anonymously through the tip line at 1-800-468-4408.
In the wake of the disastrous fire that broke out in a substantial storage yard under the freeway on Saturday, Mayor Karen Bass clarified that there should be no quick assumptions about homeless individuals living in the area being responsible. "Even though there were sixteen unhoused individuals living nearby when the fire broke out, there is absolutely no clear evidence that implies they are to blame," she insisted. All sixteen of those individuals have since been allocated temporary homes.
The Governor went on to explain that teams were still toiling around the clock, and while structural assessments were ongoing, initial reports suggest the freeway is substantially stronger than initially believed. Despite this, repairs and retrofitting are underway to ensure the freeway is thoroughly safe before the flow of traffic resumes. “Surveyors confirm the fire damaged nearly 100 columns of the freeway, with at least nine severely impacted. Crews are currently engaged in strengthening the deck of the freeway and repairing the damage encountered,” Newsom outlined.
The raging inferno, which was initially reported as a "rubbish fire," engulfed pallets, trailers, and vehicles in the storage yard under the freeway. Consequently, the freeway, a vital route into downtown LA, has been closed since early Saturday morning, triggering a traffic nightmare for thousands of commuters on Monday. It remains unclear when the highway will reopen again.
On Sunday, to expedite the repairs and secure crucial funding and resources, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency.
Pointing the finger at the callousness of Apex Development, the property owner where the fire originated was unavailable for comment when approached. Unravelling the irresponsible behavior of the property owners, the governor voiced, “Apex Development had been defying state regulations for an extensive period and had engaged in unauthorized subleasing to as many as six tenants."
Implicating the latter's defiant conduct, Newsom expressed, "They were granted permission to have open storage of non-flammable materials, non-explosive materials, and functioning vehicles. Deviating from the rules, we found not just vehicles, but a large number of pallets, and shamefully a lot of open storage."