UPDATE: Blaze Inside Port of L.A. in Wilmington Nearly Contained; Air Quality Deemed ‘Safe’
Los Angeles Fire Department fireboats respond to a fire at the Rio Doce Pasha Terminal at Berths 177-178 in the Port of Los Angeles Monday night (photo: Chris Villanueva)
Mayor Eric Garcetti, joined by Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, commended firefighters for their swift efforts to subdue the massive fire and maintain the public’s safety.
The fire, which began around 6:50 p.m. at Berths 177-178, generated enormous amounts of smoke that could be seen billowing miles away from the site. Boats from the Los Angeles Fire Department and Long Beach Fire Department responded to the blaze terminals in the port. Firefighters battled the massive four-alarm fire by land, air and sea, effectively getting the fire under control early this morning.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) issued a smoke advisory today for areas near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and alerted residents to avoid outdoor exposure and activity if possible. The advisory is in effect all day Tuesday.
Several terminals were subsequently closed and hundreds of terminal employees were evacuated for safety.School closures today included Christ Lutheran School and Church in San Pedro and St. Peter & Paul Elementary School in Wilmington, both private schools. Around 11 a.m. today, Los Angeles Unified School District announced that students were being evacuated from George De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington and taken to the San Pedro High School John M. & Muriel Olguin Campus due to air quality concerns because of shifting winds.
According to the Associated Press, Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire was an accident started by a welding operation.
UPDATE 5 p.m.: The Port of Los Angeles released an update: “With the wharf fire in Wilmington now more than 90 percent contained, terminals at the Port of Los Angeles plan to resume full operations Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Only the Pasha terminal at Berth 177, the location of the fire, will remain closed. Nearby Yusen Terminals International will reopen at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
“Port environmental officials have been monitoring air quality levels on an hourly basis since the start of the fire. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has also taken air quality samples in the area. Both agencies agree that air quality conditions are safe for residents and for a return to work in the area. Air monitoring stations will continue to monitor samples in the area.”