Audit: Caltrans Ignored Red Flags Before Freeway Fire

A lax inspection schedule contributed to the hazardous conditions that led to the massive blaze that shut down Interstate 10 in Los Angeles last year.

1 minute read

June 10, 2024, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of massive Los Angeles freeway interchange.

Tierney / Adobe Stock

Lax enforcement of inspections of storage lots located under freeways contributed to the fire that damaged part of Interstate 10 near downtown Los Angeles last year, a state audit found.

According to an Associated Press article, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) only conducted five inspections of lots under Interstate 10 in 15 years.

The audit reveals that Caltrans failed to document those inspections and could have done more to make the properties safer. The lot where the fire occurred was being used for storing flammable materials including solvents and oils and being illegally subleased.

The report points out “previous warning signs” that should have raised red flags for Caltrans, including a 2022 fire not far from last year’s blaze site. The audit recommends regular inspections, better training for staff, and a streamlined process for determining and taking legal action.

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