Storage Yard Blaze in Downtown Los Angeles

Saturday, November 11, 2023

UPDATE: November 28, 2023

The Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) released the results of a windshield survey, today, of specific fire hazards at freeway underpasses, following a massive blaze on November 11, 2023, in the 1700 block of East 14th Street in Downtown Los Angeles, that led to the temporary closure of the 10 Freeway. The systematic survey was completed by Fire Inspectors, deployed by Fire Chief Kristin Crowley, in an effort to proactively diminish the risk of a similar fire occurring.

Though LAFD responds to 9-1-1 emergencies across the City of Los Angeles, LAFD code enforcement on state owned lands is expressly limited, by statute, to violations of the Health and Safety Code as relates to hazardous materials. While LAFD is not the designated agency for Fire Code inspections of State-owned land under freeways, in the wake of the 14th Street fire, LAFD Fire Inspectors proactively conducted windshield surveys of similar properties in the City of Los Angeles. In an effort to identify and act upon areas of heightened concern, LAFD Inspectors collected and organized the data, ensuring it can be quickly and efficiently shared with, and utilized by, the State Fire Marshal, who has fire inspection jurisdiction for state owned land.

LAFD Fire Inspectors are visiting every site to determine if any of the sites have Health and Safety Code violations related to Hazardous Materials. For any violations found, Inspectors will issue a Notice of Violation and ensure the violations are corrected. If Fire Code violations are found, Cal Fire will be notified.

During the windshield survey, which was proactively directed by Mayor Bass, the LAFD reviewed 50 similar properties, ultimately referring 23 to the State Fire Marshal for further attention.

LAFD will be taking the following steps to proactively address the risk of future fire incidents:

  • Inspect all freeway underpasses by Thursday, November 30th, 2023 (completed)
  • Coordinate with CHP to provide scene safety for LAFD Inspectors as they conduct inspections
  • Refer all Fire Code violations to Cal Fire
  • Assess sites for Health and Safety Code violations, such as, onsite hazardous materials storage that exceeds the State reporting threshold (55 gallons of a liquid, 200 cubic feet of a gas and 500 lbs. of a solid), or improper storage and/or use of hazardous materials
  • Issue Violation Notices and process them accordingly (Forthwith or 30-day follow-up)
  • Assess sites to determine if they generate hazardous waste and, per protocol, refer them to the L.A. County Fire Department for follow-up.

Locations flagged by LAFD Fire Inspectors requiring follow up action:

  • 1320 Wilson St
  • 2425 Enterprise St
  • 1310 Elwood St
  • S/W Corner of Lemon St x Enterprise St
  • 2200 Enterprise St x Lemon St 
  • 2216 Enterprise St 
  • 954 W Washington Blvd 
  • 16th x Trinity St 
  • 16th x Wall St 
  • 17th x Grand Ave 
  • 954 W. Washington Blvd 
  • 1628 S. Central Ave #A 
  • 1630 S. Central Ave
  • 1468 E. 17th St
  • 1501 E. 17th St
  • 1651 Naomi Ave 
  • 1100 E. 16th St. 
  • 1630 S. Central Ave 
  • Under the 101/134/170 FWY interchange cross of Tujunga Ave
  • 405 FWY x 110 FWY
  • 110 FWY x Channel St
  • (lower) Pacific Coast Highway x Alameda St.
  • 110 FWY x 105 FWY

“I want to thank Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Kristin Crowley for coordinating this important effort and working with our state partners to ensure we are taking a whole of government approach to reducing the future risk of a similar incident,” said Mayor Bass. “As I said two weekends ago, the reason the 10 Freeway was safe and drivable for commuters this month, as opposed to next month, was the brave actions of our firefighters the night of the fire. Now, we must continue our work to keep Angelenos safe.” - Mayor Karen Bass

“In the wake of the massive fire under the 10 Freeway overpass, we quickly ascertained the fire was on property owned by the State, and subsequently, leased to private parties. Within hours of the fire, LAFD was in detailed communication with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which assigned Cal Fire Arson Investigators, as the land is within the State’s jurisdiction. To further our coordination with the State Fire Marshal’s staff, I formally assigned LAFD Fire Inspectors to conduct a systematic windshield survey to identify any similar property under freeway overpasses that warranted the State’s attention. Our LAFD Fire Inspectors surveyed more than 50 properties, ultimately referring 23 to the Office of the State Fire Marshal for further attention. While the State has fire inspection responsibilities for State-owned land, LAFD is committed to working collaboratively with the State Fire Marshal to ensure public safety in Los Angeles. The LAFD Fire Marshal’s Office continues to be in contact and collaboration with the State Fire Marshal on this matter.” - LAFD Fire Chief Kristin Crowley 

Massive, billowing smoke plumes rose from the late night sky in Downtown Los Angeles as a storage yard fire raged under the 10 Freeway.

At 12:22 AM on November 11, 2023 the Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to a reported rubbish fire in the 1700 block of E 14th Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The first arriving fire company found a large, 200’ x 200’ storage yard with pallets, trailers and vehicles, well involved in fire with buildings exposed.  The incident was immediately upgraded to a structure fire response with additional resources enroute.

As firefighters established heavy stream hand lines and ladder pipes, wind pushed the heat and flames under the freeway and across the street, igniting a second storage yard. The span of the incident, covering nearly eight acres, required transition to a Major Emergency incident with 26 fire companies assigned.

Over the next several hours, firefighters battled on multiple fronts. Due to the volume of fire under the freeway, they had limited access and faced challenges effectively hitting the blaze. While crews simultaneously defended three different commercial buildings, threatened by the fire. Firefighters also had to work around downed high tension wires when a cross arm fell on 14th street, potentially energizing the water flowing in the gutter. 

The large quantity of water being pulled from all the surrounding fire hydrants affected the supply. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power responded and assisted both by increasing pressure to ensure adequate water supply was available and de-energizing the downed power lines.

Less than three hours into the incident, the bulk of the fire was extinguished. LAFD, LA County Health Hazmat, and CalTrans worked together to safely navigate concerns regarding the structural integrity allowing CalTrans engineers to begin a damage assessment of the freeway overpass or superstructure.

LAFD Heavy Equipment Operators (HEOs) responded with the Thermite RS3, robotic firefighting vehicle and an excavator.  The RS3 is used to assist with safe interior fire operations while reducing risk to firefighters. It made entry to the area under the freeway and flowed heavy water into the remaining flare ups. Once it was safe for the excavator, HEOs moved debris to open it up and allow the water streams to penetrate.

Ultimately, over 164 firefighters, operating under the command of Assistant Chief Luis Aldana, worked through the night to extinguish the fire and successfully defend three commercial buildings from damage. Due to the intense fire conditions, one fire engine sustained damage during the course of the firefight. However, there were no reported injuries to firefighters. The cause of the fire is under active investigation by the State Fire Marshall with LAFD Arson section providing support as needed.

LAFD will transition control of the incident to CalTrans District 7 for the investigation into the stability of the freeway.


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