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Photos: The Ruins Of The Epic Inferno That Took Out Downtown's Least Favorite Development
A giant fire that erupted early this morning destroyed one of downtown's most controversial developments. The Da Vinci apartments, still under construction near the 110 and 101 interchange, were engulfed in flames, leaving just a bare skeleton of a building. The fire shut down the 110 Freeway and melted a freeway sign. Nearby buildings sustained water and fire damage, including shattered windows blown out by the heat.
L.A. Fire Dept. Capt. Jaime Moore told the L.A. Times that the blaze is being treated as a criminal fire, as there may have been "some foul play." He said that "it's very rare for the entire building to be engulfed at once."
More than 250 firefighters fought the blaze that started at the 7-story Da Vinci development at 906 N Fremont Avenue (just east of the 110 Freeway) around 1:20 a.m. The luxury apartment building encompassed 1.3 million square feet and was the size of a city block. About two-thirds of the development was incinerated.
Da Vinci's developer, Geoff Palmer, has faced controversy surrounding his monstrous, faux-Italian apartment downtown buildings (like the Orsini), including a pedestrian bridge at Da Vinci to help residents avoid the homeless. Palmer issued a statement today, showing that he wasn't deterred by the fire: "Though we have temporarily lost Building B, we will be opening Building A across the street at the end of January to those families looking forward to occupying their new homes."
Here's an intense, nearly 5-minute video from last night that shows the building burning:
The fire was knocked out in 90 minutes, but crews were still dealing with hot spots this morning.
The nearby Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building located at 111 N. Hope St. was also affected by the Da Vinci fire. At least 160 of their large windows cracked from the intense heat. Three floors of the 15-story L.A. County Health Services tower at 313 N. Figueroa St. were damaged by the fire, and the building at 221 N. Figueroa St., which houses the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, had a "significant form of damage" to 14 of its 16 floors, according to KTLA.
Firefighters said that as they fought the fire, glass was falling down on them from different buildings. “If you can imagine they have a large construction site that they have active fire, which is like a blow torch, but behind them they have the radiant heat that’s affecting the buildings behind them and surrounding them. So they had shards of glass that were coming down, falling from the sky,” LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore told KTLA.
There were two separate fires, one at an apartment building at 424 S. Broadway downtown and another at a mixed-complex at 2871 W 7th Street in Westlake that also were on fire early this morning. However, crews were able to knock those two down quickly. It's unclear if all the fires are related. Authorities, including arson investigators, are looking into the blazes.
There were no reports of anyone being in the downtown buildings at the time of the fires, but authorities aren't sure if there was anyone inside the Westlake building, reported KTLA.