LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – More than 150 firefighters spent hours battling a large and dangerous fire which destroyed a century-old commercial building in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday morning, causing multiple explosions in the process.
The fire ripped through the three-story building in the 1400 block of East 3rd Street beginning at around 1:50 a.m. It tore through the roof and also burned a nearby homeless encampment.
The building was believed to be vacant when firefighters arrived and there were no injuries or evacuations.
The building houses five businesses, two of which were smoking supply stores, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. Small pressurized-gas canisters exploded in the blaze, with hundreds of canisters littering the streets around the building. The explosions also buckled some steel doors inside of it.
The building also housed a luggage shop, gift store and import business, all of which were gutted.
LAFD crews were expected to remain on scene all day. Because of fears that the building may collapse, firefighters were forced to take a defensive position and battle the fire from the outside using hoses.
Crews also worked to protect the fire from spreading to a six-story residential retirement apartment building located next door, along with a vacant apartment building which is undergoing renovations.
"I got a little closer to try and get footage, and all of a sudden, it looked like it was going to explode, like the building," said witness Andre Durham, who had been attending a birthday party nearby.
The ground floor of the 23,790-square-foot masonry building had five businesses, with the upper two floors used for commercial storage, the fire department said.
There was no word on the cause of the fire. Crews were expected to remain on scene throughout the day.
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