Local

Downtown LA fire: Feds aid probe; nearby building closed for 6 months

An early-morning fire consumed a seven-story apartment complex that was still under construction in downtown Los Angeles 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

Investigators began looking in earnest into what started a fire that burned down an apartment building under construction in downtown Los Angeles on Monday. 

A Los Angeles arson team has been joined by federal investigators at the scorched remains of an unfinished downtown apartment complex destroyed by a raging fire that also damaged adjacent office towers.

Officials told a press conference Wednesday that the investigation of the early Monday blaze at the Da Vinci complex now begins in earnest and could take weeks or months because of the complexity.

The 1.3 million-square-foot building was still in the wood framing stage when it burned, leaving an area measuring 900 feet by 200 feet to investigate.

Two dozen members of a national response team from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are now on the scene with local arson experts.

Investigators began the day with a safety evaluation of the site.

The fire also damaged nearby buildings, including a 16-story tower owned by the city.

Sprinklers went off on 15 of the 16 floors of the city building, saving the structure from burning up but leaving crews with a big mess, according to Luke Zamperini, chief inspector with the L.A. Department of Building and Safety.

"They've got to remove everything that got wet so that we don't have mold growing up, and that would be partitions, that would be dry wall, furniture," Zamperini told KPCC.

Zamperini estimates the building will be closed for six months. In the meantime, departments with offices there have been moved to temporary locations. They include the departments of Aging and of Parks and Recreation.