Aftermath of the fire
Aftermath of the fire
Photo by Ted Soqui

Downtown L.A.'s Massive Da Vinci Fire Was Arson, Authorities Say

The massive Dec. 8 blaze that made the L.A. skyline look like it was part of a giant bonfire was intentionally set, the L.A. Fire Department and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced tonight.

In a joint statement, those authorities said that "specific information regarding the fire and investigative efforts will not be released at this time, as the criminal investigation is ongoing."

However, investigators said they have eliminated other possible causes, according to the statement:

Investigators recovered sufficient evidence to eliminate all known potential accidental causes and determine the fire was intentionally set. 

Authorities estimated damage to the under-construction portion of the Da Vinci apartments was worth $20 million to $30 million. Damage to adjacent buildings had yet to be determined, officials said.

No injuries were reported.

The blaze lit up the L.A. sky and could be seen for miles as flames consumed the exposed wood framing of the unfinished, seven-story structure on Temple Street near the 110 freeway.

Flames from the early morning conflagration licked the side of the roadway, melted a freeway sign and prompted authorities to close portions of the 110 and 101 freeways. 

The L.A. Fire Department, which has a station nearly across the street from the Da Vinci, says one fourth of its on-duty firefighters worked the blaze that morning.

According to tonight's statement:

Investigators from ATF's NRT and the LAFD sifted through 75,000 square feet of debris, took photographs, recovered potential evidence from the scene for analysis by the ATF's National Laboratory and conducted many interviews throughout the community. The NRT's specialized resources include a canine team, certified fire investigators, forensic chemist, electrical and fire protection engineers, and additional specialists.

ATF Special Agent in Charge Carlos A. Canino:

The work at the crime scene is finished, however our investigation is not over. ATF will continue to work together with our state and local partners to investigate this crime and bring those responsible to justice.

Earlier this week investigators released video of two men seen near the scene of the crime. They're still looking for them: Call 213-893-9850 if you know who they might be or where they might be.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow L.A. Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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