TORRANCE (CBSLA) – Firefighters were cleaning up Saturday morning after a car slammed into a Chase bank branch and then burst into flames, igniting a three-alarm fire.

The collision occurred just before 12 a.m. on Friday night at the intersection of Hawthorne Boulevard and Carson Street.

According to Torrance police, the driver lost control of the vehicle, ran a red light, and slammed into the corner of the bank.

Two officers in the area heard the crash and rushed over and were able to rescue the driver and the passenger from the car before it caught fire.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Joy Benedict says the driver and passenger only suffered minor injuries.

“When they got on the scene, the vehicle was completely into the structure with two occupants inside the vehicle,” said Torrance Assistant Fire Chief Steve Treskes.

Firefighters arriving at the location reported the “rapid progression” of the fire and called for assistance from multiple fire agencies — the Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Los Angeles County fire departments.

Over 40 firefighters battled the blaze that was “active for about three to four hours,” Treskes said. “Units are still outputting out hot spots,” he said.

The driver was cited for a minor traffic violation but police said they did not believe drugs and alcohol were a factor in the crash.
Benedict spoke to several bank customers who came to witness the damage for themselves.
“This was my Chase bank where I banked all the time,” said Johnny Kurgian, “No withdrawal today.”
Jokes aside, many customers were in disbelief at how fast the building burned and how little was left of it. Concern was also shown for the safety deposit boxes but Benedict reported the boxes were on the other side of the bank, where the bank sustained less serious damage.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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