The stubborn wharf fire that prompted authorities to temporarily close container terminals at the region’s twin ports was fully extinguished Wednesday morning, with only the Pasha terminal — where the fire started — remaining closed, authorities said.
Port terminals plan to resume full operations at 6 p.m. Pasha will remain closed. Yusen reopens at 8 a.m. tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/nbzSQP8Nmj
— Port of Los Angeles (@PortofLA) September 24, 2014
“The wharf fire was declared extinguished at 3:07 a.m., after more than 32 hours of active firefighting,” Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department said. “LAFD land and sea crews remain today to manage mop-up and small amounts of smoldering.”
No injuries were reported in the fire, which broke out at 6:41 p.m. Monday in the Port of Los Angeles at berths 177-179 at 802 S. Fries Ave., where cargo ships are loaded and unloaded, Main said.
Main said that while the blaze was largely contained within about two hours, it continued to smolder in timbers coated with water-resistant but flammable creosote.
LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire was caused by welder using a torch.
During the firefighting effort, the Port of Los Angeles closed 11 container terminals, leaving four open, and the Port of Long Beach closed three of its six terminals. Together, the twin ports are the busiest on the West Coast.
By late this afternoon on Tuesday, the fire was more than 90 percent contained, but firefighters, including dive teams, continued working to fully extinguish the stubborn fire.
On Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that schools affected by the fire implemented a “modified shelter in place schedule.”
Terrazas said five LAFD fireboats were deployed, along with two fireboats from the Long Beach Fire Department. Helicopter crews and divers also helped battle the flames.
At a noon briefing on Tuesday, Terrazas said the “unified command structure” worked as designed.
“The reality is … there were many agencies involved,” Terrazas said. “There is LAPD, the L.A. port police, the Long Beach Fire Department, the United States Coast Guard, and others. Because of that seamless team, we were able to successfully bring bring this fire under control.”
Terrazas said fire boats were deployed to sweep the 800-foot-long wharf facility, which is about 50 feet wide.
“At one point, there was fire the entire length of the wharf,” Terrazas said.
Terrazas said a key tactic in the success of the firefighting effort was the deployment — and the redeployment — of fire boats along different parts of the wharf as the fire raged.
Because of smoke from the fire, residents near the port were advised to keep their windows closed, their air conditioning off, and to avoid going outdoors.
Mid-morning, the South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for coastal areas in south Los Angeles County and north Orange County.
The fire was in a 40-acre area from where big cargo ships load and unload. Four people were evacuated from the warehouse. The fire did not burn in the warehouse, but threatened the pier underneath it, Main said.
— Staff and wire reports