Stretch of Los Angeles’ I-10 freeway damaged in fire won’t have to be torn down

LOS ANGELES — A 450-foot section of important Interstate 10 near downtown Los Angeles that was damaged in a raging fire will not have to be torn down and replaced, officials said Tuesday.

The fire that erupted early Saturday under the 10 freeway, as it is known locally, has been preliminarily determined to have been caused by arson — although who set it remains unknown.

“We will not need to demolish and replace the I-10,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference.

He said the stretch of interstate could be reopened in three to five weeks.

The fire — which broke out Saturday shortly after midnight in an area where vehicles, pallets and other materials had been stored underneath the interstate deck — damaged 100 support columns, nine or 10 of them severely, Newsom said.

The area under the interstate had been leased from the California Transportation Department by a company that had illegally subleased it to five or possibly six other companies, officials said.

Los Angeles firefighters assess the damage at an Interstate 10 overpass Saturday. Richard Vogel / AP

Around 300,000 vehicles use that section of I-10 each day. Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and others have been urging businesses to have their employees work remotely or take public transit.

Investigators believe there was “malicious and willful intent of starting a fire,” State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant said Monday.

Newsom said fixing the freeway will be a “24-hour operation, seven days a week, rain or shine.”

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