Fire Consumes South Los Angeles Complex

Seven businesses were damaged by the blaze, at least two of of them were completely destroyed.


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LOS ANGELES --

An intense fire rapidly consumed a South Los Angeles manufacturing complex Monday, damaging multiple businesses and sending up a massive plume of dense black smoke that could be seen across the Southland.

The blaze was reported at about 2:15 p.m. at 6236 Gramercy Place, according to d'Lisa Davies of the city Fire Department.

"It started in a commercial building," said Davies said. "Firefighters fought it for 10 minutes before they pulled out. Because of the radiant heat, anything combustible started to self-ignite, and (an adjacent) pallet yard was one of them."

The fire sent black smoke, which was visible from Orange County, over South Los Angeles. Flames reached 50 feet into the air, KNBC's Gordon Tokumatsu reported.

Seven businesses were damaged by the blaze, at least two of of them were completely destroyed.

Firefighters quickly went into a defensive mode, pulling out from the interior of the complex and battling the rapidly growing flames from the exterior.

One firefighter was taken to a hospital with heat-related injuries and another suffered a cut on his arm, Davies said. Several others were briefly trapped when live electrical wires fell on their fire truck. The wires were disabled and the firefighters were able to get out safely, Davies said.

One civilian had first- and second-degree burns on his arms, Davies said.

A total of 83 firefighters at the scene had to pull back from the intense flames, and they worked instead on preventing the blaze from spreading out of the city-block-sized complex and into nearby homes. Davies said crews essentially went into a "surround-and-drown" mode.

"We went into defensive mode," Davies said. "We were thinking of the structural integrity of the building, so we moved all our personnel to the outside of the building."

Despite the fire's proximity to some homes, no evacuations were ordered.

The flames were largely doused by early evening, Tokumatsu reported.

The flames quickly spread from building to building, particularly when the pallet yard went up in flames and intensified the heat.

Davies said everyone in the complex appeared to have made it out safely.

"I think with the intensity of the blaze, they self-evacuated, because as far as I know, most of the employees were accounted for," she said.

A damage estimate was not immediately available, because "so many offices and companies were involved," she said.

Authorities said they have not determined the cause of the fire.

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