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Fire closes major highway in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A major highway near downtown Los Angeles in the United States was closed in both directions on Saturday after a fire rampaged through storage lots underneath it.

The fire sent towering flames into the night sky early yesterday morning. Daybreak revealed twisted guardrails and blackened, chipped concrete at an Interstate 10 overpass in an industrial zone.

The California Department of Transportation sent personnel to inspect the highway, with detours established to ease snarled highway traffic. Interstate 10, which runs east-west, was closed near downtown Los Angeles for at least 24 hours into Sunday, authorities said.

The cause of the fire yesterday been disclosed.

Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and directed the state Department of Transportation to request assistance from the federal government.

“The state is mobilising resources and taking steps to ensure any necessary repairs are completed as soon as possible to minimise the impact on those travelling in and around Los Angeles,” Newsom said.

The fire department said the blaze burned through trailers, wood pallets and other things in storage lots on both sides of the highway, though firefighters successfully safeguarded three nearby commercial buildings.

Over 160 firefighters from 26 companies responded to the blaze, which spread across eight acres and burned parked cars and damaged a support for high-tension power lines. Fire department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said there were no injuries reported from the fire, which was mostly extinguished by late morning.

A Los Angeles firefighter uses a robotic hose to douse a fire under Interstate 10 that severely damaged the overpass in an industrial zone near downtown Los Angeles, United States. PHOTO: AP
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