Huge Fire lights up LA skyline, snarls traffic

Huge Fire lights up LA skyline, snarls traffic

Monday, December 8, 2014 9:10 pm

Huge fire in downtown Los Angeles

Huge fire in downtown Los Angeles

A massive fire lit up the Los Angeles skyline Monday, destroying one building and damaging two neighbouring ones, as well as closing down freeways during the morning commute.

No injuries were reported but the inferno near a downtown freeway interchange could be seen for miles and billowing clouds of smoke closed down adjacent highways in two directions.

“When you look at the magnitude of this fire, and what we were able to save, it’s amazing, because we did have total of three high-rises,” LAFD spokesman Jaime Moore told Fox 11 television.

City fire officials were unable to give an immediate cause for the blaze, which all-but destroyed a seven-story apartment building that was under construction.

Flames spread for a whole city block, nearly a million square feet, officials said, adding that the blaze started around 1:20 am (0920 GMT).

The apartment development in downtown had caused some controversy in the community due to a pedestrian bridge the developers wanted to erect so residents could avoid street traffic, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported.

The blaze spread quickly through the building and officials warned there was a risk of building scaffolding falling into the roadway even after the fire was contained.

The fire was so big that responding firefighters could feel the heat from the flames from their fire station, a city information officer told AFP.

Two adjacent office towers were also damaged, including three stories of the 15-story Los Angeles County Health Department building which sustained heat damage, including melted blinds and broken glass, the LA Fire Department said.

A second fire a short drive away also caused severe damage to a building housing apartments and commercial spaces that was under renovation.

Both fires were brought under control Monday morning.

More than 350 firefighters battled the blazes, a quarter of the city’s firefighting force, Los Angeles Fire Department public information officer David Ortiz told AFP.

Firefighters from nearby areas came in to assist with the response efforts.

“There was a great impact due to both fires on local commute traffic,” Ortiz said.

The freeway closures lasted into the day, although by mid-morning most lanes had been reopened, officials said.

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