Firefighters responded to the Barrington Plaza at 11740 Wilshire Boulevard at 11:43 a.m. A plume of black smoke was seen pouring out of a unit on the 11th floor of the 25-story building. More than 180 firefighters responded to the scene.
"We had one of our helicopters bring in these firefighters from the rooftop. They made a combined, aggressive attack, got to the 11th floor where they found a hallway charged with heavy, heavy smoke and one unit on that floor -- a two-bedroom, two-bath unit -- with heavy fire," said Capt. Jaime Moore with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.
The fire, which was mostly contained to one apartment, was knocked down in 71 minutes. Nearby apartments had smoke and water damage, officials said.
Eight people were taken to area hospitals for smoke-related injuries, including a young girl who was found in the stairwell of the 23rd floor. She was said to be in critical condition.
Pamela Day, who lives in the building, says she was with the girl and an elderly man, trying to escape the black smoke in a stairway, but that she had to turn around and go back because it was too overwhelming.
"They got trapped in the stairwell. There was so much smoke that you couldn't function, and I think they ultimately collapsed in there," said Day.
Day says she went back down and with the help of firefighters, pulled the girl and man out, where they were given CPR.
Three firefighters were also taken to the Grossman Burn Center for evaluation of burns; two of them had leg burns and the other had an ear burn.
The cause of the blaze is unknown at this time. There are no sprinkler systems in the building because it was built in the 1960s, and sprinklers weren't required in residential buildings until the 1970s.
Some who live in the building said the alarms didn't go off. But the building manager spoke at a press conference and said all the alarms seemed to be functioning.
More than 100 people were displaced by the fire. An evacuation center has been set up at University High School at 11800 Texas Ave. in Los Angeles.
Barrington Plaza, located on the corner of Barrington Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard, is a luxury apartment complex, where units rent for up to $3,000 a month.
Wilshire Boulevard was closed due to the fire investigation and cleanup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.