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Firefighters injured, traffic snarled by building fire in Echo Park

October 9, 2012 | 11:39 pm

Firefighters injured, traffic snarled by building fire in Echo Park
Los Angeles firefighters were battling a raging fire at a commercial building in Echo Park late Tuesday.

Towering flames could be seen shooting from the roof of the building on Palo Alto Street near Belmont Avenue and alongside the 101 Freeway, according to TV news footage. 

Five firefighters were injured and were being assessed at the scene, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. There were no immediate reports of civilian injuries. The fire was causing a major traffic jam on the 101 because of lane closures.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which was reported shortly before 10 p.m. Witnesses told authorities that it began in vegetation outside the building but swiftly moved inside through the windows.

About 135 firefighters staged an aggressive attack, but had to shift to a defensive posture when the flames swept across the attic and moved into the 2nd floor, compromising the structure, Humphrey said.

Firefighters had the building surrounded with hose lines and were pouring thousands of gallons of water per minute into the building, he said.

"These firefighters didn’t come to work today; they came to war,” Humphrey said, adding: “This building sadly will be a total loss."

UPDATED STORY: No firefighters injured in Echo Park commercial blaze

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-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Los Angeles firefighters battle the fire in Echo Park. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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