BRENTWOOD (CBSLA) – Two adults were critically injured after a massive fire tore through part of a high-rise in the Brentwood area Wednesday morning, the same building which was the site of a fire more than six years ago. Helicopters were used to rescue several residents who fled up to the roof for safety.
The blaze broke out at Barrington Plaza, a 25-story residential building located at 11740 Wilshire Blvd. a little after 8:30 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The fire broke out in a seventh floor unit, with heavy flames and smokes billowing hundreds of feet into the air.
There were initially unconfirmed reports that people may have been forced to jump out of the building. Aerial footage showed at least one person standing outside a window. However, in a morning briefing, LAFD Deputy Chief Armando Hogan told reporters that there were no jumpers.
"That person that was hanging off the ledge that was contemplating jumping, what we ended up doing was talking that individual to stay put, our firefighters were able to effect a rescue...so no one jumped," Hogan said.
They did, however, place inflatable air cushions on the ground in case there were any jumpers.
"We do not encourage people to jump, but if they had, we wanted to do our very best to help them," LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey told CBS2.
Another 15 people were rescued by helicopters off the roof and flown to the West L.A. Veterans Affairs Medical Center helipad.
In total, eight people were treated, including two men in their 30s for critical injuries and another nine people for smoke inhalation and burns. Among those treated for smoke inhalation was a 3-month-old infant.
The fire was knocked down just before 10 a.m. Firefighters conducted a floor to floor search to ensure there were no other victims. Hogan said only floors 5 through 8 were impacted by the fire. It's unclear how many units were destroyed or damaged. The building, which was built in 1961, has about 240 apartments and does not have a sprinkler system and is not required to because of its age.
"We arrived very quickly after the fire reported, within moments, to find heavy fire pouring out of this sixth floor unit...Initially there were reports of several person who had jumped from that or upper floors," Humphrey said.
Most of the residents in the building had already left for work for the day, Humphrey said. It's unclear if the entire building was evacuated.
According to Hogan, crews who had been fighting a separate fire at a 26-story building just three blocks away -- in the 11300 block of West San Vicente Boulevard -- noticed flames coming from a sixth-floor balcony.
At the fire's height, four LAFD rescue-capable helicopters were assigned to the fire, along with 335 firefighters.
This is not the first time a fire has broken out a Barrington Plaza. In October 2013, a fire broke out on the building's 11th floor, sending three firefighters to the hospital with burn injuries.
There was no word on a possible cause, although the fire has been deemed suspicious in nature. Officials are also unsure if the blaze is connected to the San Vicente fire.
"Due to the uniqueness of two high-rise fires erupting blocks away, hours apart, that is part of the investigation, but it certainly is to early to tell if there is any connection," Capt. Erik Scott said.
"Right now we don't know really if we have an arson or an accidental fire," LAPD Deputy Chief Justin Eisenberg said.
Surrounding streets were shut down and the public was asked to avoid the area. A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at the Westwood Recreation Center on Sepulveda Boulevard.
Arson investigators are on scene. The Santa Monica Fire Department, L.A. Police Department and L.A. County Sheriff's Department were assisting in the response.
The company which manages Barrington Plaza issued a statement which read in part:
"Our priority is the safety and well-being of our residents. We're tracking the condition of those who may have been injured. We take these matters extremely seriously, and will continue to work with the Fire Department and local authorities."
There was still no word on what started the fire, but building inspectors were expected to return Thursday morning to determine if the building is safe for residents to return.
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