L.A. Man Held in $100M Blaze


LOS ANGELES--Authorities have charged a 56-year-old man with setting a massive blaze last December that destroyed an apartment complex under construction, damaged nearby buildings, and closed parts of two major highways.

Dawud Abdulwali, of Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty May 28 to two counts of arson at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Abdulwali faces 10 years to life in state prison. He is being held on $1 million bail.

Accelerant Allegations

Prosecutors say Abdulwali used an accelerant to start the Dec. 8, 2014, fire on the fourth floor of the seven-story Da Vinci apartment complex under construction.

No one was injured, but the fire caused nearly $100 million in damages, prosecutors said.

Authorities have not revealed details regarding motive or additional evidence.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Thursday (June 11).

Building B Blaze

Building B at the Da Vinci was in the wood framing stage when the fire broke out about 1:20 a.m., reports said. Two-hundred fifty firefighters worked about 90 minutes to extinguish the blaze.

 Los Angeles Fire Department

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

Dramatic images posted to social media showed the city’s skyline partially engulfed in leaping 50-foot orange flames.

The fire caused an estimated $30 million in damage to the building alone, according to reports.

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

The Da Vinci was the latest development in a series of downtown Renaissance-style buildings being constructed by developer GH Palmer Management. Building A opened in January 2015.

The developer did not respond Tuesday (June 9) to a request for comment.

Damage to Other Buildings, Highways

Several neighboring high-rise buildings sustained damage during the blaze, including a 16-story adjacent building that ignited, officials said.

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

LA downtown
© istock.com / zephyr5150

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

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

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

Following the incident, a California Department of Transportation spokesman told the LA Times that fiber-optic traffic monitoring lines beneath the pavement might have to be replaced as a result of the fire damage.

Caltrans estimated the freeway damage at $1.5 million.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Los Angeles City Fire Department’s Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section.


Tagged categories: Condominiums/High-Rise Residential; Construction; Criminal acts; Developers; Fire; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; North America; Residential Construction

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