Port of Los Angeles Fire Is Very Close to Oil Storage Tanks

Map of Long Beach / Wilmington / Port or Los Angeles Fire Location

The Long Beach / Wilmington / Port or Los Angeles Fire Location

This fire has been reported to have been started by a spark from a welding torch from a steel importer.  There are lots of oil storage tanks in the area.  

A persistent fire at the Port of Los Angeles, fueled by World War II-era lumber pylons soaked in creosote, emitted a plume of toxic fumes, raising concerns about air quality on Tuesday. Firefighters worked diligently to combat the blaze from both above and below the water.

Although officials stated that the fumes surrounding the fire were not measured at hazardous levels beyond the immediate vicinity, the potential for wind shifts led Los Angeles fire officials to recommend temporary closures for two nearby schools: St. Peter-St. Paul and De La Torre Jr. Elementary Schools in Wilmington. St. Peter-St. Paul Elementary confirmed its closure for the day, while the Los Angeles School Police determined that poor air quality would not affect the area around De La Torre Jr., allowing it to remain open.

Fortunately, no injuries have been reported thus far from the fire, which authorities believe was ignited by a torch-welding operation. The fire has been contained within a 50-foot-by-800-foot area, but firefighters anticipate battling the blaze for at least another 12 hours due to the challenge of reaching flames deep within multiple layers of heavily soaked timber treated with creosote, a dark, tar-like liquid.

The Los Angeles and Long Beach fire departments have deployed fire boats, scuba divers, and ground crews to combat the fire. Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas described the fire as exceptionally difficult to fight. As a precaution, residents in the vicinity of the port are advised to keep their doors and windows closed.

Employees at several terminals, including TraPac, Yang Ming, China Shipping, Pasha, NYK, APL, and Evergreen, were advised to check with their employers before heading to work due to limited access caused by the fire.

The fire broke out on Monday evening around 6:40 p.m. beneath a steel warehouse in the 800 block of South Fries Avenue, posing a threat to nearby cargo ships. Firefighters on land utilized bulldozers and jackhammers to create trenches in order to control the extensive blaze at berths 177 and 178, while LAFD divers entered the water and employed hose lines to combat the flames. As a precaution, approximately 850 terminal employees were evacuated on Monday night.

Authorities are also determining the appropriate course of action for the Crown Princess cruise ship, scheduled to unload passengers at the port on Tuesday morning. The warehouse itself did not appear to catch fire, according to Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Katherine Main, but the dock beneath it suffered damage. Four employees were safely evacuated, and large cargo ships were instructed to move away from nearby berths.