Burned chili peppers cause trouble for firefighters in downtown LA building blaze

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Efforts to mop up a massive building fire in downtown Los Angeles have been complicated due to crates of chili peppers that were burned during the blaze on Sunday.

Firefighters coughed and sneezed as they attempted to douse hot spots and investigate the cause of the fire.

"What's hampering us is that you can smell and taste the chili powder and that chili that is burning in the masks that they're using," Capt. Scott LaRue with the Los Angeles City Fire Department explained.

Business owners who showed up to assess the damage were also having a tough time.

"It's bad. You can't even breathe. It's really, really bad," business owner Fernando Tapia said.

Tapia rushed to his business Sunday evening when he heard about the fire. He said the smoke and flames were pouring out of the building that houses his store in at least 10 other businesses.

"When I got here the fire just started really fast. I was in shock. I was just like 'wow,'" Tapia said.

It took nearly 200 firefighters to knock down the stubborn blaze that began in the 800 block of South Central Avenue just before 6:30 p.m.

Smoke and flames could be seen for miles as crews battled the fire. Fire officials believed the fire sparked in a restaurant supply business and spread quickly.

No one was injured during the blaze.

"We had (been) closed. Thank God no one was hurt," Tapia said. "(We'll) start picking up the pieces and start fresh and start rebuilding what we lost."

The cause of fire remained under investigation, but officials said it doesn't appear to be suspicious in nature.
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