Some decisions are so negligent and with consequences so predictably disastrous that only a Big Stupid Government could ever make them. Over the weekend, a massive fire under I-10 at E. 14th Ave. in Los Angeles was severe enough to cause structural damage bad enough to close that section of the freeway "indefinitely."
The miracle — thanks to Big Stupid Government — is that it didn't happen sooner.
With more than 300,000 vehicles being rerouted each and every day until further notice, frustrated Los Angelenos demanded answers — and, on Tuesday, they got one.
"Bad actors" caused the fire, according to State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant.
Some unknown arsonist is believed to have started Saturday's blaze, but that's not the "bad actor" to whom Berlant was referring. You see, the city government leases underpass space to people and companies for storage. In this case, "bad actors" filled the underpass with wooden pallets and containers of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
In my report on Monday (and at the top of this story), you can see the pallets stacked so high under the freeway that they're almost touching the underside of the elevated road. The photos were courtesy of Google Street View, so it isn't like the towers of literal kindling were some dark secret.
The city is currently in a legal battle with a company called Airspace that leased the underpass storage area.
Let us pause here to consider the ill-considered wonder of stuffing underpasses full of kindling and flammable goo. Let us pause again to consider the bone-crushing stupidity of allowing unpoliced homeless encampments filled with vagrants, addicts, and the mentally ill to cohabitate with pallets and accelerants.
"Giving money and power to government," P.J. O'Rourke quipped, "is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." But sometimes the situation is reversed. In this case, government gave dry wood and alcohol to vagrants.
Was the I-10 fire started by a malicious arsonist or just a bored fentanyl addict? We may never know with 100% certainty, but we do know these fires are common wherever the homeless are living free range. PJ Media's own Victoria Taft reported back in March, "Fire, fire everywhere" rages all up and down the West Coast, where the homeless are treated like an endangered species.
That story was just one entry in Victoria's ongoing "West Coast, Messed Coast" series, of which, if you aren't a regular reader, you should be.
Meanwhile — you're going to love this one — KTLA reported Tuesday morning: "Just days after a massive blaze destroyed part of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, another fire broke out under a different freeway." This time, the fire appears to have started at an underpass homeless encampment near eastbound 105 and southbound 110 and then spread to nearby vegetation.
Fortunately, this fire didn't have nearly as much fuel to burn and only resulted in some traffic slowdowns.
But two of these fires in four days are a sure sign that LA's Big Stupid Government doesn't know how to protect the city's critical transportation infrastructure. Or maybe they just don't care. Maybe the neglect is on purpose — a stealthy way to promote the city's "road diet" to force drivers out of their cars and onto public transportation.
Whether by accident or design, however, it takes a Big Stupid Government to allow anyone to store kindling and accelerant under freeway overpasses occupied by those who are negligent, drug-addicted, mentally unstable, criminal, or all four.
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