LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A huge fire broke out at a large commercial building near the Fashion District area of downtown Los Angeles Sunday night, sending plumes of smoke billowing over the skyline.

The Los Angeles Fire Department reports that firefighters responded to a one-story L-shaped concrete building in the 1200 block of East 8th Street just before 6:30 p.m. to find flames shooting from the roof. Crews were forced to take a defensive stance as firefighters who had initially gone onto the roof were forced to climb down.

“We weren’t making enough progress and we had concerns, always have concerns of safety and the risk,” Deputy Fire Chief Daren Palacios said.

The building has 15 to 20 units with roll-up doors that house supplies for several businesses. Adding to the firefighting challenge was that the building was packed with all different kinds of items ranging from produce to cotton items and party products. The produce included chili peppers, which burned and released capsaicin, an irritant, which made it hard for firefighters to breathe.

By 9:30 p.m., firefighters had mostly contained the fire but had not knocked it down completely, with crews expected to remain on scene throughout the night monitoring for hot spots.

At the height of the blaze, more than 190 firefighters were on scene attacking it with water streams from all sides of the building. The fire was contained to the south and east ends of the building, LAFD said.

The building was closed Sunday evening, so there was no one inside when the fire broke out and there were no reported injuries.

Central Avenue was shut down in both directions at 8th Street for several hours and drivers were advised to avoid the area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The extent of the damage was not confirmed.


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