A massive blaze that began in a pallet storage yard below the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles has brought traffic chaos to the city.
A mile-long section of the freeway near downtown LA, which sees 300,000 vehicles use it every day, is now closed indefinitely after more than 160 firefighters battled the fire.
Authorities say that the fire was reported at 12.20am on Saturday, with flames burning through cars and wooden pallets in an eight-acre area under the elevated freeway.
At least 16 homeless people living underneath the highway were taken to shelters, said LA Mayor Karen Bass. It is not known if the homeless encampments played any role in the fire.
Ms Bass warned on Sunday that the freeway may not be opened any time soon.
“Unfortunately, there’s no reason to think that this is going to be over in a couple of days. We cannot give you an estimate of time right now,” she said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom visited the site on Sunday and declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County.
He said that the state had been in litigation with the owner of the business leading the storage site where the fire started.
“This is a site we were aware of, this is a lessee we were aware of,” he said.
And he added: “Remember, this is an investigation as to the cause of how this occurred, as well as a hazmat and structural engineering question. Can you open a few lanes? Can you retrofit the columns? Is the bridge deck intact to allow for a few lanes to remain open again?”
An investigation was due to be completed on Monday, with temporary supports having been added underneath the freeway. Engineering experts will decide if the stretch of road has to be demolished and rebuilt.
Ms Bass said that she has spoken to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, about the situation.
She said she had “directed all city departments to immediately plan for how to address increased traffic due to this closure to best mitigate the impact on Angelenos and we will continue to urgently coordinate with our state partners to resolve this issue for not only the millions who use this freeway, but also for those who live and work in the surrounding areas.”
And she continued: “For those of you who remember the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Caltrans worked around the clock to complete emergency repairs to the freeways – and this structural damage calls for the same level of urgency and effort.”
After that earthquake, an engineering company was able to rebuild two damaged bridges on the 10 Freeway completely in two months, 74 days ahead of schedule.