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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Authorities release photo and description of 'person of interest' in 10 Freeway arson fire



The California State Fire Marshall’s office released a photo and description of a “person of interest” in connection with the massive arson fire that burned beneath Interstate 10 south of downtown Los Angeles leading to the closure of the freeway.

Photographs from the scene taken at 12:31 a.m. on Nov. 11 show a man walking in the vicinity of Alameda Street and the 10 Freeway. He is wearing blue shorts and a black jacket and carrying a black backpack and a green scarf. He also has a knee brace on the right knee, and what appears to be burn injuries on his left leg.

The fire, which closed both the westbound and eastbound lanes of the freeway affecting 300,000 vehicles who use the route daily, began under the overpass at Alameda Street and was fueled by wood pallets stored there.

The freeway — one of the most heavily used routes in the country — is expected to open to traffic on Tuesday.

Not long after the fire was extinguished did authorities determine that it was caused by arson. Although the exact cause of the fire was not revealed, Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference on Monday said that “there was [malicious] intent.”

In addition to pallets, sanitizer accumulated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was stored under the overpass and helped fuel the flames, according to sources familiar with the probe who were not authorized to discuss details of the investigation.

The office of the State Fire Marshal, which has jurisdiction over the property, which is owned by Caltrans, appealed for witnesses to call a tip line with information and noted those tips could be given anonymously.

“We have identified the point of origin of the fire,” State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant said.

If the suspect is identified, authorities are asking the public to contact the State Fire Marshall’s arson and bomb unit at arsonbomb@fire.ca.gov or contact the Cal Fire arson hotline at 800-468-4408.



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