‘Stubborn’ Wharf Fire Closes Container Terminals at Port of Los Angeles -UPDATE 2

Mike Schuler
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September 23, 2014


Update 2: The wharf fire at the Port of Los Angeles has been extinguished after more than 32 hours of active firefighting, the port said Wednesday. All terminals are now open, except for Pasha, where the fire was located. No injuries to report as a result of the fire.

Update 1: The fire at the Port of Los Angeles is about 90% contained, the port said in a statement posted to Facebook at approximately 1:30 PDT.

Three terminals at the Port of Long Beach have also temporarily discontinued operations for the first shift today, Tuesday, September 23, due to smoke from the fire at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles. The Port of Long Beach says the affected terminals will reassess the situation later today, and consider reopening for the night shift, which would begin at 6 p.m.

Original: All container terminals at the Port of Los Angeles are closed Tuesday after a ‘stubborn’ fire erupted last night underneath a warehouse on one the port’s wharfs, causing damage and sending toxic smoke into the air.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says it was called at 6:41 PM Monday evening to 802 S Fries Ave in Wilmington where the fire was billowing from under a 150-foot wharf at Berth 179.

An aggressive fire attack was mounted by LAFD’s Fire Boats as divers entered the waters to assault the blaze from below the pier. The LAFD says that firefighters were met with many challenges including the highly flammable creosote soaked timbers supporting the concrete wharf which were inaccessible from land.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says that due to the scope of the fire it has established a unified command with Los Angeles Port Police, United Stated Coast Guard, and the Long Beach Fire Department.

At least two large cargo ships were moved to a safe location as a precaution.

The LAFD says that over 170 firefighters, working quickly by air, land, and sea, contained the bulk of the fire in just under two hours, but the stubborn hard to reach fire smoldered for hours as firefighters worked through the night.

The fire burned under POSHA’s steel warehouse causing collapse of areas of the flooring and large coils of steel to fall into the water. The LAFD reports that a strategic use of a backhoe to create a large trench in the wharf halted the fires progress, which was confined to the wharf and under the warehouse.

The smoke caused the overnight closure of several shipping terminals, leading to the evacuation of over 850 dock workers as a precaution. As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, all container terminals at the Port of Los Angeles were closed for precautionary reasons due to air quality. Meanwhile, harbor area residents were advised to avoid the smoke, close windows, and stay inside. At least two schools have been closed Tuesday as a cautionary measure for air quality reasons, the Port of Los Angeles reported.

No injuries were reported.

Reports indicated that the wharf and warehouse have been heavily damaged by the fire.

Photo courtesy LAFD Chief Terrazas via Twitter
Photo courtesy LAFD Chief Terrazas via Twitter

The cause of this fire remains under active investigation by the Los Angeles Fire Department Arson Section.

Latest photo below courtesy Port of Los Angeles via Facebook:


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