Firefighters responded to the blaze around 6:30 p.m. in the 800 block of South Central Avenue. Fire was showing through the roof and crews worked to control the blaze from that spot until it was deemed too dangerous.
Numerous fire units called in to battle blaze at commercial building in downtown Los Angeles pic.twitter.com/H9qJz3d3rw— Amy Powell (@abc7amy) March 13, 2017
Authorities said about eight to 10 businesses were fully engulfed in flames and drowned the building in water to get control of the fire.
The owner of a neighboring business called Spice Bodega raced downtown in fear that his building was in danger of going up in flames.
"The firemen did a great job. They prevented the fire from jumping from that building onto our building," John Rusconi said.
Authorities said the building had separate units with roll-up doors for 15 to 20 businesses. The units were packed with everything from party supplies to produce.
Firefighters said "bulky store goods" and a large amount of chili peppers added fuel to the fire as well as created an irritant.
"It started burning your throat because it's a bunch of chilies," witness Erick Zamora said.
Los Angeles fire said the blaze had gone into the attic of the building. More than 150 firefighters were on scene battling the fire.
Central Avenue was closed in both directions at 8th Street during the firefight.
No injuries were reported and evacuation orders had not been issued for nearby buildings.
Firefighters would remain in the area overnight to make sure there are no flare-ups.
It was unclear what caused the fire.