(CNS) An investigation was under way today to determine the cause of a fire that raced through and severely damaged a three-story commercial building in Echo Park, sending flames through the roof and slowing traffic on the nearby Hollywood (101) Freeway.
A total of 125 firefighters battled the blaze, which was reported at 9:57 p.m. Tuesday at 1625 Palo Alto Ave. at North Belmont Avenue, along the southbound Hollywood Freeway, and knocked down in just less than two hours, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Witnesses said the fire started in brush and then spread to the building, Humphrey said.
The blaze swiftly engulfed the structure, which Humphrey said was a multi-tenant office building, sending flames through the roof and out of the windows and causing portions of the roof to collapse. At one point, firefighters were forced into a defensive posture, meaning
they fought the flames from outside the building, Humphrey said. "Then they went back inside to finish the fire fight,'' Humphrey said.
The upper floor of the building appeared to be a total loss, Humphrey said. No civilians were injured or reported missing, Humphrey said, but five firefighters initially reported as injured were examined at the scene before they returned to fight the fire, he said.
Firefighters evacuated a homeless encampment along the freeway, said a news photographer at the scene.
The cause of the blaze was under investigation and a dollar loss was being tabulated, Humphrey said. Firefighters would be mopping up until dawn.