Local

Downtown LA fire: $10M damage estimate, update on p.m. commute

Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
A photo taken by an eyewitness shows flames rising from a massive construction site fire in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, December 8, 2014.
Courtesy of KaOri Pamon and Rejeana Black
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
A photo taken by an eyewitness shows flames rising from a massive construction site fire in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, December 8, 2014.
Courtesy of KaOri Pamon and Rejeana Black
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
A million square-foot apartment complex that was still under construction caught fire early in the morning in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
An estimated $10 million in damage occurred after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Firefighters continue to put out hot spots after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Windows in an office building across N Fremont Avenue were blown out because of heat after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
The 110 was briefly closed after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Firefighters spray down smoldering scaffolding after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
A rendering shows what the apartment complex was set to look like. It was slated to open in January. An early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
An early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
An arson team investigates the scene after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
An early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Construction crews clean scorched leaves and debris from N Fremont Avenue after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Burned wood lays on N Fremont Avenue after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Scorched parking garage signs across N Fremont Avenue show the heat intensity after an early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Firefighters continue to spray down a seven-story apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles after an early-morning fire consumed the building on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014.
Melted fire strobe outside a nearby office building caused by the seven-story apartment complex fire in downtown Los Angeles early Monday.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


A seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles burned in a massive fire early Monday that shut down portions of the 110 and 101 freeways during morning rush hour. The building was reportedly part of downtown developer Geoffrey Palmer's "Renaissance Collection," a series of high-end luxury apartments. Arson investigators are on scene, though no cause has been identified. The L.A. Department of Water and Power said its downtown headquarters was affected by the fire and that customer call times could be longer as a result.

Updates

7:22 p.m. Fire investigation to begin Wednesday morning, traffic update

The investigation into the cause of Monday's blaze will begin Wednesday morning, LA City Fire Dept. spokesperson Katherine Main told KPCC.

Twenty members of the ATF National Response Team will arrive Tuesday and the investigation won't begin until all ATF and LAFD investigators are present.

ATF's team has members that specialize in explosions and chemical detection and LAFD has special investigators and an accelerant-detecting canine. 

Fire crews are still working to extinguish smoldering areas and flare ups, as bulldozers remove debris and a crane removes scaffolding surrounding the building, Main said. 

The 110 northbound freeway transitions to the 101 freeway northbound and southbound have been reopened, Caltrans tweeted.

https://twitter.com/CaltransDist7/status/542125799382331392

--KPCC's Bianca Ramirez

5:07 p.m. Traffic update, ATF sending National Response Team

The northbound 110 to southbound 101 freeway connector will open momentarily, Caltrans tweeted. However, three lanes will remain closed and delays are expected.

https://twitter.com/CaltransDist7/status/542121608278589440

As part of the fire investigation, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, is sending a National Response Team to assist the LAFD and LAPD.

https://twitter.com/LAFDChief/status/542118387229274113

3:01 p.m. Highway Patrol tweets road closures

The California Highway Patrol updated the road closures on the northbound 110 Monday afternoon in advance of the afternoon commute, which should prove challenging as firefighters mopped up the scene near the downtown L.A. fire.

The northbound 110 is only partly open, with lanes 4, 5 and 6 still closed. The CHP is unsure of when they will reopen. 

Here are details: 

Bottom line: If you can find an alternate route, avoid the 110 northbound through downtown.

​https://twitter.com/CHPsouthern/status/542081280943198208

https://twitter.com/CHPsouthern/status/542081120909533184

https://twitter.com/CHPsouthern/status/542080705107210240

 

2:10 p.m. Building inspection files show no defects 

The construction inspection files of the Da Vinci apartments showed no defects that might have been a precursor to the fire, said Luke Zamperini, chief inspector of the Department of Building and Safety's Training and Emergency Management Division.

He said the building was inspected nearly daily, and builders would not have moved forward without all safety-related issues being resolved first.

There were, he said, "no red flags" during the ongoing construction.

Of the two units that comprise the Da Vinci apartments project, the 900-foot-long building facing the 110 Freeway was destroyed, but the building alongside the 101 Freeway was not damaged, Zamperini said, adding he saw no reason why construction could not continue on schedule to open in January.

The building site was well known to city building officials because it is located across the street from Building and Safety inspection offices. City managers could look out their windows and see the construction crew's security officers securing the site at the end of each workday, Zamperini said.

The Building and Safety Department offices at 201 and 221 N. Temple sustained water and smoke damage and would reopen by about Wednesday, he said. The damage would not significantly delay the work of plan checkers and building inspectors because those tasks could be shifted to other locations, and inspectors work offsite using laptop computers.

Some of the buildings damaged also housed county health facilities. The building at 313 N. Figueroa, which suffered broken windows and other damage, is home to administrative offices for the county’s Department of Health Services. It also houses the county vital records office. Visitors needing birth and death certificates are being referred to alternate locations.

Next door, the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s central health clinic was also closed Monday, with patients being referred to nearby clinics.

https://twitter.com/CountyofLA/status/542071180941746176

--KPCC's Sharon McNary and Adrian Florido

1:10 p.m. Fire's cause could take days to determine

Firefighters are still battling remnants of the blaze, which should take the rest of Monday, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said.

The northbound 110 freeway to the northbound 101 freeway is open.

The northbound 110 to southbound 101 freeway is still closed but Caltrans hopes to have it open by 3 p.m. Monday, said Patrick Chandler of Caltrans. 

Crews need to remove rubble and install 650 feet of K-Rail. 

Damaged freeway sign tresses will be removed this week, including one on the southbound 101 freeway, which may require a night closure. 

No injuries were sustained during the fire.

The cause is "still under determination" and it could take several days to find out the cause, said Terrazas.

Arson investigators have still not been able to enter the building because it is not structurally stable so they have "nothing to go on," and there is a "myriad of possibilities," Terrazas said. 

Investigators from the city and county of L.A. and the ATF are looking into the fire's cause.

L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar asked anyone with information on the possible cause of the fire to call 213-893-9850.

The L.A. Department of Building and Safety was also affected by the fire. Huizar advised anyone in need of permits to call 311 for information on other places to obtain them.

--KPCC's Jessica Hamlin

12:11 p.m.: Building sustains $10 million in estimated damage

Since the scorched Da Vinci building is still too hot to get into, it will take some time before firefighters can enter it to investigate the fire's origins, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore told KPCC. 

Damage to the under-construction building is estimated at about $10 million.

LAFD plans to bring a dog in to see if it alerts them to any potential fire accelerant, but have not done so yet.

Fire officials have no reason to believe anybody was inside the building or hurt in the fire, but won't know for sure until the building cools and they can make a more thorough search, according to Moore.

Investigators have been interviewing homeless residents in encampments along the freeway bordering the property for information about what they might have seen connected to the fire's origin.

The Da Vinci apartments are shown in planning documents below pulled from the Los Angeles City Clerk's website.

 

--KPCC's Sharon McNary

11:53 a.m.: DWP says fire will impact customers

Damage to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power headquarters during a massive fire in downtown L.A. is leading to prolonged hold times for customers, the utility said Monday.

Staff identified at least 160 windows, each about 10 feet high, that cracked in the intense heat of the fire, which burned the nearby construction site at 906 N. Fremont Street, DWP said in a statement. Most of the windows were on the west side of the John Ferraro Building on Hope Street.

Staff were working to board up the windows, but in the meantime employees working nearby had to move to different locations. The utility said customers calling 1-800-DIAL-DWP for help could experience higher than average wait times — more than 30 minutes compared with a four-minute average over the past month.

The utility recommends customers looking for assistance with payments, service requests or billing issues use the website or call tomorrow instead.

DWP also said the company is monitoring air quality to be sure its employees and visitors are safe.

The apartment complex that burned was part of downtown developer Geoffrey Palmer's "Renaissance Collection."

Update 10:17 a.m.: 110 NB partially reopened

The left three lanes of the northbound 110 Freeway have reopened following a massive fire at an under-construction apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles.

The northbound 110 Freeway to the 101 Freeway transition also reopened, but the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 lanes of the 110 remained closed, according to a Sig Alert issued by the California Highway Patrol late Monday morning.

Tweet

The building was reportedly part of downtown developer Geoffrey Palmer's "Renaissance Collection." Two nearby buildings were also damaged in the fire.

The CHP warned motorists to use caution in the area as several road signs burned down in the fire.

Tweet

Update 8:38 a.m.: Burned complex part of downtown 'Renaissance Collection'

A seven-story apartment complex still under construction that burned in a massive fire in downtown Los Angeles early Monday was part of a series of similar residential buildings developed by Geoffrey Palmer, according to Los Angeles Magazine.

The Da Vinci building, near the transition from the 110 to the 101, was part of the so-called "Renaissance Collection," which includes other complexes done in a faux Italian style — the Orsini, the Piero, the Visconti, the Medici, L.A. Magazine reports.


(MAP: Approximate location of 'Da Vinci' building construction site, which burned early Monday.)

Palmer has been praised as a visionary for contributing to the rebirth of downtown L.A. He's also attracted controversy for, among other things, illegal campaign funding and destroying an 1880s Queen Anne cottage to make way for the Orsini, L.A. Magazine reports.

NBC4's Toni Guinyard told KPCC the fire destroyed the Da Vinci and damaged two other buildings nearby.

L.A. City Fire Captain Jamie Moore said the fire spanned more than a city block and that the debris pile would continue to put off smoke for the better part of the day, Guinyard reported.

The northbound 110 is closed between the 10 and 101 because firefighters are concerned the scaffolding could fall onto the road. Caltrans is still assessing the freeway and its guard rails.

Authorities estimated that two northbound lanes of the 110 Freeway could reopen by 9:30 a.m., CHP Officer Jennifer Cassidy told KPCC. 

Arson investigators were on scene Monday morning, though the cause of the fire was still unknown, according to NBC4.

Earlier: Massive DTLA fire shuts parts of 110, 101 freeways

A million square-foot apartment complex under construction burned to the ground overnight in downtown Los Angeles, and the fire shut down portions of the 101 and the 110 freeways. 

Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire was so hot, glass broke in a nearby high-rise on Figueroa - that building was closed Monday.

"This is a historic fire, what we as firefighters would call 'a career fire,'" Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told NBC News. "It's huge. I really can't remember a building fire this big and I have been with the department for 13 years."

The fire consumed the wood-framed structure and damaged three floors of an adjacent high-rise before being brought under control, according to the Associated Press.

Video

More than 250 firefighters were on scene to battle the massive structure fire, AP reports.

As of 4:33 a.m., the southbound sides of both freeways were reopened, according to the CHP. The northbound 110 between the 10 and 101 freeways remained closed.

Terrazas said it was initially challenging for firefighters on the freeway to connect to a water supply.

"Our firefighters were creative as usual and innovative and created an improvised stand pipe and brought water from the surface level streets up to the freeway to provide the water necessary to go into the heavy streams that we ultimately utilized for that side of the fire," he said at a morning news conference.

The cause is still under investigation.

AP video showed the flames shooting up into the dark sky.

Firefighters were also called to a second fire that broke out several blocks away on 7th Street. About 100 firefighters were on scene there.

Terrazas said there's no indication the two fires are related.​

No injuries have been reported from either fire.

If you're driving into downtown LA, give yourself extra time because some exits along the 101 are closed as well.

Storify

This story has been updated.