A fire that torched a towering residential construction project on Monday morning in downtown Los Angeles and shot flames seven stories into the air is now believed to have been started intentionally.
The heat from the fire exploded windows in neighboring buildings, melted computers and cubicles, and ignited palm trees incinerating them in a matter of minutes.
Maria Joya, 54, sleeping under an overpass by the 110 freeway woke up feeling that her feet were suddenly baking hot, reported the Los Angeles Times. “There were tongues of fire,” she said. “I just started crying.”
Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jaime Moore suspects that there was foul play involved because “it’s very rare for the entire building to be engulfed at once.” Fortunately, no one lived there on the site and no injuries were reported.
On Monday afternoon, the Times noted that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators looked down into the smoldering Da Vinci complex from a fire crane. Carlos Canino, the top ATF agent in Los Angeles, noted that the structure had collapsed on itself making it necessary for investigators to get down all the way to the cement foundation to see how the fire was started.
Kin Isamov, 28, of Silver Lake was headed downtown on the 110 Freeway to pick up his girlfriend when he experienced the fire. “You could feel the fire. You drive through it, and you kind of imagine what Armageddon would feel like,” Isamov said. “You feel like any second the fire is going to get in the car, burn you.”
Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety spokesman Luke Zamperini, ironically said that Da Vinci complex was “the most inspected building in the history of mankind, because it’s right outside our inspectors’ windows.” He added, “We’ve all been watching the progress of the building and these guys working their tails off. Now it looks like they’re going to be out of work for a little while.”
There was $10 million in estimated losses in the razed structure, Captain Moore said. And at least four nearby buildings were also damaged, reported the Times.