Police have released a photo of a “subject of interest” believed to be connected to a massive fire that caused traffic chaos in Los Angeles after shutting down a large section of Interstate 10.
A photo of the unidentified man was released on Saturday and showed him in the immediate area where the fire started. The suspect appeared to have a “visible burn on his left leg.”
Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said investigators believed the fire was “intentionally set” and that a preliminary investigation into the incident had found “malice and intent.”
“The fire marshal determined that there was malicious intent … This fire occurred inside the fence of the facility that you see behind me, that it was arson and that it was done and started intentionally,” he told reporters.
In the police statement, the person is described as a 30- to 35-year-old man, about 1.83 meters tall and weighing between 170 pounds (77 kg) and 190 pounds (86 kg). Details of how he was identified were not immediately available.
The photos show him wearing blue shorts, a black hooded sweatshirt, a green scarf and a brace on his right knee.
Despite fears that the mile-long stretch of freeway near downtown Los Angeles, where 300,000 vehicles use it every day, would remain closed until Tuesday, the city's mayor, Karen Bass, announced Sunday that the stretch would reopen on Monday. morning.
“The eastbound and westbound lanes are now open at 10 and we will continue to work to open the on- and off-ramps into the evening. Welcome back, Los Angeles!” published in X.
There was also a post from the California Governor's Office thanking Ms Bass and Vice President Kamala Harris – who also visited the fire site before it reopened.
“Today, we announced with @VP and @MayorOfLA that I-10 will be open before the Monday morning commute!” read the post.
“Thanks to the heroic work of @CaltransDist7 and union construction crews, the speedy repair of 10 is a testament and point of pride that we deliver here in California.”
At a press conference, Mr. Newsom told reporters: “We weren't just after speed. We wanted to make sure this thing was safe.”
The extent of the damage on I-10 appeared extensive, with inspectors determining that nearly 100 freeway columns were damaged by the fire, at least nine of which were severely damaged.
Photos from the aftermath showed blackened pillars and patches of concrete missing pillars as a result of the fire. Large pieces of metal and the inner parts of the support columns were left exposed.
Officials had initially said it could take about 250 workers between three and five weeks to fill the gap. Although both lanes have now reopened, they will be closed periodically over the coming weeks or months as repairs continue.
Initial repairs, which are expected to be covered by federal funds, are estimated to cost $3 million.
State investigators repeatedly identified fire and safety hazards at a leased storage facility under a Los Angeles elevated freeway before it went up in flames, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Authorities say the fire was reported at 12.20am on Saturday, November 11, with flames engulfing cars and wooden pallets in an eight-acre area under the elevated highway.
At least 16 homeless people living under the freeway were moved to shelters, Ms. Bass said earlier.