Cause of Echo Park commercial blaze under investigation
It took firefighters nearly two hours to put out a harrowing blaze in Echo Park that started late Tuesday night and engulfed a commercial building, sending flames shooting from the roof.
The fire reportedly started in vegetation outside the building at 1625 Palo Alto St. and witnesses told authorities it and spread quickly into the structure through windows. The cause of the fire was under investigation and the cost of damage was being tabulated early Wednesday.
As 125 firefighters tackled the blaze, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey equated the incident to battle, saying “these firefighters didn’t come to work today; they came to war.”
At one point, crews had to shift from an aggressive attack to a defensive posture as flames swept across the building’s attic and moved into the second floor, Humphrey said, compromising the structure.
“The building, sadly, will be a total loss,” Humphrey said.
The structure is the site of a business-cleaning company and printing business, among others. Humphrey said that there were no significant civilian or firefighter injuries.
Traffic on the southbound 101 Freeway was severely backed up during the blaze because the building was alongside the freeway and lanes were closed, snarling traffic as drivers squeezed into the remaining lanes and drove slowly by the fire.
Scores of Echo Park residents stood outside watching the fire Tuesday night as thick black smoke towered over the neighborhood.
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-- Ari Bloomekatz and Sam Quinones