A seven-story apartment building under construction in downtown Los Angeles was destroyed this morning by a huge fire that damaged two nearby high-rise buildings and prompted freeway closures but appears to have caused no injuries.
Flames were first reported at 1:20 a.m. at 906 North Fremont St., Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas told reporters at the scene. More than 250 firefighters struggled to keep the flames from spreading beyond the 1.3 million square-foot building, which was in the wood frame stage, he said.
But the wooden frame collapsed in the fire, and flames spread to a 16- story Los Angeles City building at 221 North Figueroa St. Three floors were damaged by fire and 14 floors sustained water damage, said fire department spokesman David Ortiz. That building will be closed today, and people who work in the building can call (800) 882-1482 for further information, the LAFD reported.
Additionally, three stories of the 15-story Los Angeles County Health Department building at 313 North Figueroa St. sustained radiant heat damage, including melted blinds and broken glass, the LAFD reported. The radiant-heat damage provided a measure of how much heat the inferno at 906 N. Fremont generated.
Firefighters this morning continued working to douse hot spots, an effort that was expected to continue for some time, the LAFD reported.
Arson investigators were on the scene, although it was too early to determine the cause, Terrazas said. They would look at surveillance video from surrounding buildings to assist them, he said.
Terrazas said the threat of scaffolding and wooden frame collapse caused the fire department to ask the California Highway Patrol to issue a SigAlert shutting down the northbound Harbor (110) Freeway transition to the northbound Hollywood (101) Freeway and the southbound Hollywood Freeway at Alvarado Street and Union Avenue.
The southbound Hollywood Freeway was reopened at about 4:30 a.m., according to the CHP, except for the Temple, Broadway and Los Angeles offramps.
About 3 a.m., the southbound 110 Freeway was closed at Broadway, but the lanes were reopened after about 90 minutes. The northbound 110 Freeway was closed at the Santa Monica (10) Freeway about 4:30 a.m., a closure that was continuing through the morning commute, the CHP reported.
The fire continued to smolder after daybreak.
“The fire … the bulk of it has been knocked down, but they need to get in there and knock down those hot spots before they ever declare a knock down,” LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore told Fox 11. “When you look at the magnitude of this fire, and what we were able to save, it’s amazing, because we did have a total of three high-rises,” Moore said.
“The initial fire, which is a seven-story wood frame (under) construction that was well involved … (and) we had those adjacent two high- rises, one which is 16 stories, and the other one which is 15 stories,” Moore said. “The first one, the 16-story building, had active fire on three floors, and had sprinkler activation on six other floors.
“So, they were able to get in there, and knock that fire down and prevent that building from having a major emergency itself. Then, we had the L.A. County building which is … a 15-story high rise. They had three floors that were about to (catch) fire,” Moore said. “They were able to get in there and cool those floors down, so that we didn’t have active fire burning inside that building.”