Los Angeles freeways jammed after huge construction site fire

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2014 7:54 AM

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fire destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction in downtown Los Angeles and spread to a neighboring high-rise early Monday before flames were largely extinguished, forcing a major freeway shutdown through rush hour.

The blaze erupted at about 1:30 a.m. and took about three hours to bring under control, but no injuries were reported, said Katherine Main, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles City Fire Department.

About 250 firefighters, roughly a quarter of the city's total on-duty force, were battling the flames at the height of the blaze, she said.

The cause of the fire, and a separate smaller blaze that erupted across town at another construction site overnight, was under investigation, she added.

The fire disrupted morning rush-hour traffic in the city and closed an eight-mile stretch of freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The structure that burned, two stories of concrete beneath five floors of wood framing, occupied an entire city block near the intersection of two freeways, Main said.

Flames spread to an adjacent 16-foor high-rise office tower, consuming about three stories of that building. Fourteen floors sustained smoke, fire or water damage, and the building was closed for the day, Main said. A second, smaller neighboring office building sustained heat damage, but firefighters kept flames from encroaching on that structure, she said.

Fire department spokesman David Ortiz said flames spread across the freeway at one point before the blaze was contained.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Eric Beech and Doina Chiacu)