Arson suspected in gigantic fire that destroyed apartment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles

Updated Dec 11, 2014

Police and fire officials in Los Angeles have opened a criminal investigation into a massive fire that broke out early Monday morning, engulfing an entire city block and destroying most of an apartment complex under construction.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the fire broke out around 1:20 a.m. Monday at the downtown construction site for the seven-story DaVinci apartment complex. The fire became so hot that it “burst windows of nearby buildings and melted freeway signs,” the Times reported. At least 160 windows at the city’s Water and Power department building were cracked by the fire’s intense heat.

Response time to the fire was quick as it broke out less than 100 yards away from a fire station. It took more than 250 firefighters about 90 minutes to put out the blaze. Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed in the fire. However, officials told the paper that two-thirds of the complex’s 1.3 million square feet of floor space was destroyed.

In a follow-up report by the Times, LA fire department officials called the timing of the fire particularly suspicious since it occurred in the middle of the night and at a period when the complex’s exposed wood frame was particularly vulnerable to a fire. Neither sprinklers or walls had been installed at the complex and, according to the Times, the building hadn’t been compartmentalized yet which would have kept the fire from spreading.

However, experts told the Times that because the complex was burned so thoroughly, investigators will likely have a hard time determining exactly what caused the fire.