The fire that erupted on the 10 Freeway Saturday night was so intense that dozens of drivers were forced to abandon their cars and run for their lives, and at least one of them says he’s being forced to pay to get his vehicle back after it was towed when the flames were put out.
“It was terrifying,” 20-year-old Isaiah Stacy-Sutton, who escaped the flames that night, said.
The college freshman was on his way to his father’s home early Saturday morning when the blaze, along with thick plumes of toxic smoke, enveloped the interstate overpass at Alameda Street near downtown Los Angeles.
“Flames were getting on the freeway,” he told KTLA’s John Fenoglio. “From what I could hear and see, stuff was blowing up.
At that point, the 20-year-old didn’t realize it was a raging inferno on one of the nation’s busiest roadways.
“I had no way of turning around,” he explained. “From where my car was, I had a lot of people behind me and a lot of people in front me, so I’m trapped. I have nowhere to go and all I know is that there are explosions and there’s a huge fire.”
He said that he and other motorists had no choice but to take off on foot, not knowing if or when they would get their vehicles back.
“People were running for their lives, that’s how crazy it was,” Stacy-Sutton recalled.
Once he was out of harm’s way, he called his dad to pick him up. He and his father said they repeatedly tried to ask authorities how and when they could get their car off the freeway, but were told to leave the area.
“We didn’t abandon the vehicle,” Stacy-Sutton’s father, Stephen Sutton, told KTLA. “No one would let us get to the vehicle, which I understand some of this. I just think they could’ve just released the vehicle, plain and simple.”
The California Highway Patrol towed Stacy-Sutton’s car, but never told him. By Monday, the family managed to track it down but not before the college freshman was forced to rent a car and pay for it out of his own pocket. His insurance wouldn’t cover the rental without first knowing where his vehicle was.
After being charged for the tow and the rental, Stacy-Sutton said he spent more than $1,000 just trying to get his car back.
“I would like, of course, for CHP to take some responsibility, the insurance to take some responsibility,” he said. “But I’ll figure that all out with the attorneys.”
As for CHP, they told KTLA that they did not tell any motorists to abandon their vehicles, and they also said they only towed three cars that were left near the fire on Saturday.
Officials are encouraging anyone who has been impacted by the freeway fire to contact CHP’s Central Office at 213-744-2331 or by mail at CHP-Central Los Angeles Office, 777 West Washington Blvd., L.A., CA. 90015.