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Hollywood Nightclub Inferno Still Under Investigation

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Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 7:00 AM

There is still no news on what caused the fire that gutted a popular celebrity hangout in Hollywood according to Los Angeles Fire Department arson investigators.

The Basque Restaurant & Nightclub, located on the corner of historic Hollywood and Vine, was a hotspot for young celebrities and a regular stalking ground for the paparazzi until it burst into flames on April 30.

Lindsay Lohan celebrated her 21st birthday and Kanye West partied there just nine days before the fire. Matt Damon played cards in the nightclub (then called Deep) for scenes in the movie "Ocean's Eleven."

The inferno tore through the nightclub and damaged three nearby vacant businesses - a tattoo parlor, a day spa and a shoe repair shop.

click to enlarge vinefirephoto2.jpg

Arson investigators said the fire most likely started in the centre of the nightclub, but they didn’t know what caused it. A transient sleeping at the back of the building told investigators that he didn’t see anyone enter or leave the nightclub around the time of the fire. The bar was closed that night.

To help with the investigation, the fire department called in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ national response team. The 19-member team provided the fire department with chemists, forensic electricians, and mapping experts who were tasked with recreating the scene. The last time the response team was called in by the fire department was during the arson fire at the Palomar Hotel in Hollywood in 2001 that killed two people.

The fire department received 911 calls at 5:30 am from construction workers who were working across the street at the W Hotel. They reported seeing smoke billowing out from the roof.

No one was injured in the blaze that took 26 engine companies, six rescue units and 180 firefighters two and a half hours to extinguish.

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