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Fire in downtown Los Angeles may have been intentionally set

William La Jeunesse reports from Los Angeles

 

A large fire in downtown Los Angeles destroyed an apartment tower that was under construction and forced the closure of parts of two major freeways, snarling rush-hour traffic Monday morning.

More than 250 firefighters were battling the blaze at 909 West Temple Street early Monday, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told the Los Angeles Times. Fire officials also said that two other buildings nearby suffered damage. One building suffered "radiant heat damage" on three floors, while the second suffered fire damage on three floors and water damage on the remaining 14 floors.

Officials are inclined to believe it may have been intentionally set, The Times reports. Fires of this magnitude are treated as criminal fires.

However, Capt. James Moore said it is "very rare the whole building is engulfed."

Federal investigators along with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will have to sift through the layers of the building before a decision will be made.

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It took the firefighters more than and half and a half to put the fire out. No one lived there yet and no injuries were reported.

Portions of U.S. Route 101 and Interstate 110 were shut down for a time over fears that debris might fall into lanes. The northbound 110 remained closed after sunrise, as commuter traffic backed up for miles.

The Times reported that the fire broke out at around 1:20 a.m. local time and could be seen all over Los Angeles, with some images of the blaze taken from as far away as the Hollywood Hills appearing on social media.

The paper reported that the complex under construction, known as the Da Vinci, was the latest in a series of apartment buildings built near the 110-101 interchange, just north of downtown.

Shortly after 4 a.m., another fire was reported at a mixed-use building about 2 miles to the west. More than 100 firefighters from multiple agencies responded and had the flames under control in less than two hours, according to Chief Deputy Mario D. Rueda.

One person in a nearby apartment building was treated for minor smoke inhalation, he said.

Around 10 businesses were housed in the two-story building in the Westlake district and portions of it were being renovated for residential use.

There were no indications the two incidents were connected, Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas told The Associated Press.

Click for more from The Los Angeles Times.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.