Fire tears through downtown L.A. building

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES The fire started just before 5 a.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Los Angeles Street in the heart of the garment district.

Click here for a slideshow of the fire

The cleanup effort continues in the garment district. The streets outside the building are littered with debris.

The towering flames completely destroyed several businesses inside the warehouse.

Heavy smoke and flames were seen coming from the rear of the building. Flames raced through the building, partially collapsing the roof and a wall.

It took more than 130 firefighters about 1 1/2 hours to put out the fire that burned the warehouse and the upper floors of an attached structure on the corner of the street.

Firefighters initially tried battling the blaze from inside the building, but they say the flames spread so quickly they had to evacuate and surround the building outside. Crews were forced into a defensive mode because of the dangerous conditions, which included a series of electrical explosions.

Firefighters doused the flames with thousands of gallons of water from ladders and the street. Their tactic was to dump as much water on the structure to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby businesses in the garment district.

"Well it consumed the whole second floor of this building and it appears that the building was approximately 150 by 100. So there was a lot of fire and there was a lot of work done by the firefighters early this morning," said Batt. Chief Ronnie Villanueva from the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

Business owner Melody Lim says she lost virtually everything she has worked for in the fire. She could do nothing more than cry as she witnessed her livelihood go up in flames.

Lim says she stored her merchandise, including wedding dresses, inside the space she leased in the commercial warehouse. She also owns the dress shop next door to the burned building and says a lot of her merchandise in that space is ruined as well.

"That is my life," said Lim. "All my life that [was] my building, my business."

Lim says she's not only distraught over the fire, which destroyed most of her merchandise, but over the fact that she has no insurance to cover the damages.

Fire crews and shop owners are assessing the damage from the fire. The upstairs portion of the warehouse is a total loss, torched in the fire.

There are no reports of any injuries.

Fire investigators are at the scene working to determine what caused the fire. Meanwhile, firefighters continue to try and clean up all the debris scattered on the nearby streets.

A portion of Los Angeles Street and Olympic Boulevard will be closed through the afternoon.


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