Arson eyed in massive Los Angeles apartment blaze

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Huge Fire Destroys Several Buildings in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Federal and local investigators tried Tuesday to determine whether an arsonist set a fire that turned an unfinished downtown Los Angeles apartment complex into a block of flames so hot that freeway signs melted and windows cracked in office high-rises as far as a block away.

Crews were dousing hot spots and smoke was billowing more than 24 hours after flames engulfed the wooden frame of the seven-story construction site, leaving a smoldering heap of wood and metal.

The fire that broke out early Monday caused an estimated $10 million in losses to the Da Vinci apartment complex, city fire Capt. Jaime Moore told the Los Angeles Times.

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Arson eyed in massive Los Angeles apartment blaze
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 27: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (R) addresses the media outside of City Hall East on May 27, 2015 in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Garcetti discussed the arrest of Dawud Abdulwali, 56, of Los Angeles, a suspect in the Da Vinci apartment complex fire. Also pictured are Special Agent in Charge at ATF Carlos Canino (2nd L) and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas (3rd L). (Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, second from left, surrounded by city authorities, comments on the arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department's anti-terrorism division of a suspect on suspicion of arson, during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The arrest of Dawud Abdulwali, 56, of Los Angeles culminated a six-month investigation involving the Los Angeles Fire Department, LAPD and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. (AP Photo/Tami Abdullah)

An aerial perspective of the blaze from a distance.

Photo Credit: Lawrence

A likely unprecedented reward of $170,000 was slated to be offered in the investigation into a massive fire that destroyed an apartment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles, officials announced Wednesday.
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
This photo provided by Nancy Yuille shows a massive fire engulfing an apartment building construction site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including a massive one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nancy Yuille)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas joined by other officials talks during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. A Los Angeles arson team has been joined by federal investigators at the scorched remains of an unfinished downtown apartment complex destroyed by a raging fire that also damaged adjacent office towers. Officials said that the investigation of the early Monday blaze at the Da Vinci complex now begins in earnest and could take weeks or months because of the complexity. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Smoke filters to the sky in the early morning hours as remnants of the blaze are extinguished by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Photo Credit: Patrick Lawler

Embers raise from surrounding buildings during the downtown blaze.

Photo Credit: Mama_Cho

Fire and ember consume the skies as the quickly moving blaze consumed the building.

Photo Credit: Derrick Huey

A local fire alarm pull box on a building about 100 yards away from a raging fire that destroyed a massive apartment complex under construction is melted Monday, Dec. 8 2014, in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of two destructive early morning fires in the city. The other heavily damaged a building that houses multiple businesses in a neighborhood a couple miles away. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent chief Carlos Canino, left, talks during a news conference joined by LAFD arson investigator Frank Oglesby with his his accelerant detection dog, Major, center and Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas, right in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. A Los Angeles arson team has been joined by federal investigators at the scorched remains of the unfinished downtown apartment complex destroyed by a raging fire on Monday that also damaged adjacent office towers. Officials said that the investigation of the blaze at the Da Vinci complex now begins in earnest and could take weeks or months because of the complexity. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Los Angeles firefighters and state highway workers watch as an apartment building under construction smolders after a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed the site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Early morning sunlight slants through the smoldering ruins of a seven-story apartment building under construction that was destroy by fire on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Early morning sunlight slants through the smoldering ruins of a seven-story apartment building under construction that was destroy by fire on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: The ruins of a seven-story apartment building under construction that was destroy by fire smolder alongside the 110 freeway on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters hose down the smoldering ruins of a seven-story apartment building under construction alongside the 110 freeway that was destroy in an early morning fire on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Aftermath of this morning's apartment fire along the 110...from above http://t.co/M3fb6UlWOf
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: A jet taking off from LAX passes a lone standing staircase in the smoldering ruins of a seven-story apartment building under construction that was destroy in an early morning fire on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Workers toss a sign over the 110 freeway that was ruined in an early morning fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Northbound lanes of the 110 freeway remain closed as Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Northbound lanes of the 110 freeway remain closed as firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning computers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Firefighters douse the remains of a fire that destroyed an apartment complex that was under construction, in downtown Los Angeles, California, December 8, 2014. A pair of massive fires burst across the Los Angeles skyline early Monday, damaging four buildings and closing down freeways during the morning commute. No injuries were reported but the flames near a downtown freeway interchange could be seen for miles and billowing clouds of smoke closed down adjacent highways in two directions. City fire officials were unable to give an immediate cause for the blaze, which severely damaged a seven-story apartment building that was under construction. Damage to the structure appeared to be nearly total. Flames spread for a whole city block, nearly a million square feet, officials said. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters douse flames at the remains of the DaVinci apartment complex after a fire destroyed the 1 million square foot site, in Los Angeles, California, December 8, 2014. A pair of massive fires burst across the Los Angeles skyline early Monday, damaging four buildings and closing down freeways during the morning commute. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters douse the remains of a fire that destroyed an apartment complex that was under construction, in downtown Los Angeles, California, December 8, 2014. A pair of massive fires burst across the Los Angeles skyline early Monday, damaging four buildings and closing down freeways during the morning commute. No injuries were reported but the flames near a downtown freeway interchange could be seen for miles and billowing clouds of smoke closed down adjacent highways in two directions. City fire officials were unable to give an immediate cause for the blaze, which severely damaged a seven-story apartment building that was under construction. Damage to the structure appeared to be nearly total. Flames spread for a whole city block, nearly a million square feet, officials said. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Los Angeles firefighters work on putting out a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed an apartment building construction site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
State highway workers watch as Los Angeles firefighters work to put out a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed an apartment building construction site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Cinders from a fire cover a downtown Los Angeles office building parking lot caused from an apartment building fire under construction on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Two raging fires in Los Angeles destroyed a massive residential complex under construction, heavily damaged another building under construction, and snarled rush hour traffic while raining ash over a large area early Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
State highway workers watch as Los Angeles firefighters work to put out a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed an apartment building construction site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Los Angeles firefighters work on putting out a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed an apartment building construction site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Los Angeles firefighters and state highway workers watch as an apartment building under construction smolders after a massive fire along State Route 110 that engulfed the site near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Cinders from a fire from an apartment building under construction covers a walkway in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Two raging fires in Los Angeles destroyed a massive residential complex under construction, heavily damaged another building under construction, and snarled rush hour traffic while raining ash over a large area early Monday. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Dozens of windows are melted and shattered in a building more than 100 yards away from the site of a raging fire that destroyed a massive apartment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The apartment complex fire was one of two destructive early morning fires in the city. The other heavily damaged a building that houses multiple businesses in a neighborhood a couple miles away. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Los Angeles city firefighter examines some of dozens of melted and shattered windows on a building more than 100 yards away from the site of a raging fire that destroyed a massive apartment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The apartment complex fire was one of two destructive early morning fires in the city. The other heavily damaged a building that houses multiple businesses in a neighborhood a couple miles away. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Commuter traffic makes it's way along State Route 110 past the remains of an apartment building fire near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Commuter traffic makes it's way along State Route 110 past the remains of an apartment building fire near downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Crews battled two large fires in Los Angeles early Monday, including one downtown that closed portions of two major freeways and blanketed the area in ash and heavy smoke. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Los Angeles city firefighter works amid the ruins of a raging fire that destroyed a massive apartment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. It was one of two destructive early morning fires in the city. The other heavily damaged a building that houses multiple businesses in a neighborhood a couple miles away. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters mop up a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning commuters. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8: Firefighters battle a fire that destroyed a seven-story apartment building under construction on December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The fire also damaged nearby high-rise buildings and shut down freeways, causing massive traffic problems for morning computers. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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Another $1.5 million in damage was done to a freeway where a sign melted and traffic-monitoring fiber-optic cables under the pavement may have to be replaced, authorities said.

Fire officials said they suspect arson because the fire erupted so quickly over so much of the building.

"It's very rare for the entire building to be engulfed at once," Moore said. "There may have been foul play."

City fire investigators and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will look at surveillance recordings and use dogs that can sniff fire accelerants.

Flames were visible for miles Monday and rained ash onto freeways flanking the construction site. Some signs melted and portions of U.S. 101 and Interstate 110 were shut down as burning debris fell into lanes.

Three floors of a nearby 16-story city-owned building had fire damage and the other floors sustained water damage.

The intense heat also broke glass and melted blinds in three stories of the 15-story Los Angeles County Health Department building.

A block away, the city Department of Water and Power reported cracks in at least 160 of its 10-by-4-foot windows at its headquarters.

The burned apartment complex was planned to be a 1.3 million-square-foot residential building - one of a series of large complexes that have gone up around downtown in recent years.

Shortly after 4 a.m. Monday, another large fire was reported at a mixed-use building undergoing renovations about 2 miles to the west. More than 100 firefighters had the flames under control in less than two hours, Chief Deputy Mario D. Rueda said.

One person in a nearby apartment building was treated for minor smoke inhalation, he said.

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