Arson Weighed in L.A. Apartment Blaze


A massive overnight blaze in downtown Los Angeles has destroyed an apartment complex under construction, damaging nearby buildings and closing parts of two major highways.

The cause of the fire Monday (Dec. 8) at the seven-story Da Vinci apartment building remained under investigation Tuesday (Dec. 9), as firefighters continued to battle hotspots.

Reports indicate the fire, which caused millions in estimated damage, may have been set. 

No one was injured.

The fire broke out at the apartment's Building B about 1:20 a.m. local time, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. Two-hundred fifty firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze in about 90 minutes.

Dramatic images, such as this one posted on social media, show the city’s skyline partially engulfed in leaping 50-foot orange flames.

‘Foul Play’ Suspected

Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore told the Los Angeles Times that fires of that magnitude are always treated as “criminal fires,” but he added, “It’s very rare for the entire building to be engulfed at once.”

“There may have been some foul play,” he told the news bureau.

Federal investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been called in to help sift through debris at the site to determine a cause, according to the fire officials.


The blaze damaged nearby buildings and lit up the early-morning sky.

The investigators say they are also poring over financial records and surveillance tapes, reports note.

City building inspectors have noted that the charred development was probably one of “the most inspected buildings in mankind” because of its proximity to the Department of Building and Safety.

Damage to Other Buildings

Several neighboring high-rise buildings suffered damage, fire officials said, including a 16-story adjacent building that ignited.

Windows cracked and sprinklers soaked flooring and desks at the Department of Building and Safety, according to the LA Times.

Computers and cubicles melted in other nearby structures, reports say.

Additionally, portions of the U.S. Route 101 and Interstate 110 were shut down as embers spewed onto the freeway, charring traffic signs, reports noted.

LA downtown
© / zephyr5150

The fire caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage to the freeways and traffic signs, according to Caltrans.

A California Transportation spokesman told the LA Times that the department’s fiber-optic lines beneath the pavement that monitor traffic flow and speeds may have to be replaced as a result of the fire damage.

Caltrans estimated the freeway damage at $1.5 million.

Stage of Construction

A part of the Da Vinci complex, Building B was in the wood framing stage when the fire broke out, reports said.

Two stories of the building were concrete; the remaining five were exposed lumber, fire officials reported.

The fire caused an estimated $10 million in losses to the complex.

Set to open in 2015, the Da Vinci is planned to be a 1.3 million-square-foot Italianate complex with over 500 units, according to GH Palmer Management’s project website. The development is the latest in a series of Renaissance-style buildings being constructed downtown.

The building’s design and location have been the focus of many critics.

In a statement, developer Geoffrey Palmer thanked the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department for their brave response in putting out the fire.

Palmer noted the construction delay on the project website and said Da Vinci’s Building A would open in January 2015, according to schedule.

Two Morning Fires

The apartment fire was the first of two destructive blazes in the area Monday morning.

Reports say the other blaze ignited about 4 a.m. at a mixed-use, two-story building undergoing renovations about two miles away.  

One person in a neighboring apartment building was treated for minor smoke inhalation as a result of that fire, according to officials.

The fires appeared to be unrelated, officials said.


Tagged categories: Construction; Developers; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; North America; Residential Construction

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