Massive Downtown L.A. Fire Shuts Down Parts of 101, 110 Freeways

Downtown Fire - H 2014
Associated Press

A second fire broke out shortly after 4 a.m., but authorities don't think they're related

Two raging fires in Los Angeles destroyed a massive residential complex under construction, heavily damaged a building undergoing renovations, and snarled rush hour traffic while raining ash over a large area early Monday.

More than 250 firefighters fought a downtown blaze that was sparked at a block-long construction site around 1:20 a.m., Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said. Flames visible for miles consumed the 7-story wood-framed structure and damaged two adjacent high-rises before being brought under control within 90 minutes.

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"The radiant heat was strong enough to burst windows in one building next door," Battalion Chief Joseph Castro said.

Three floors of that adjacent building were damaged by fire and several other floors sustained water damage. The building, which houses city offices, was closed for the day.

Embers spewed from the fire landed across a freeway, igniting brush and charring a traffic sign. But fortunately winds were light and did not blow the fire even farther.

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The southbound lanes of 101 and 110 were reopened by 4:40 a.m., the California Highway Patrol tweeted. But the northbound side of 110 was still closed after sunrise, as commuter traffic backed up for miles. The southbound 101 Temple, Broadway and Los Angeles off-ramps were also closed as of 6:30 a.m., according to a tweet from the California Highway Patrol. Around 10 a.m., the California Highway Patrol tweeted that three lanes on the northbound side of the 110 are open, while three remained closed. The northbound 110-101 is also open, CHP advised in a subsequent tweet. Another tweet noted that some traffic signs on the northbound side of the 110 were burned down.

No injuries were reported. The burned structure was planned to be a residential building. The site was still smoldering by midmorning and downtown was littered with ash.

Shortly after 4 a.m. another large fire was reported at a mixed-use building about 2 miles to the west. More than 100 firefighters from multiple agencies responded and had the flames under control in less than two hours, according to Chief Deputy Mario D. Rueda.

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One person in a nearby apartment building was treated for minor smoke inhalation, he said.

Around 10 businesses were housed in the two-story building in the Westlake district, and portions of it were being renovated for residential use.

There were no indications the two incidents were connected, Terrazas said.

Videos like the ones embedded below showed the immense nature of the fires, with plumes of smoke visible for miles, NBC Los Angeles reported.

"This is a historic fire, what we as firefighters would call 'a career fire,' " LAFD spokesman David Ortiz told NBC News. "It's huge. I really can't remember a building fire this big, and I have been with the department for 13 years."

Ortiz told NBC L.A. he didn't think anyone was living or working where the first fire broke out.

The second fire was knocked down shortly after 6:30 a.m., NBC L.A. tweeted.




Huge fire in downtown right now

A video posted by Eric R Larsen (@ericjustr) on

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