A 25-story Los Angeles high-rise that caught fire, injuring 11 civilians and two firefighters, lacked sprinklers, the fire department said.
Los Angeles has approximately 770 high-rises, and 55 residential high-rises do not have sprinklers, public information officer Erik Scott said at a Wednesday evening press conference.
“That’s because they were built prior to 1974, and they’re not currently required to be equipped with fire sprinklers,” Scott said.
The fire broke out Wednesday morning on the seventh floor of a Barrington Plaza tower, located on Wilshire Boulevard. Built in 1961, the building contains 240 units and 339 tenants, Scott said.
The building was last inspected in June 2019 and was up to code, Scott said.
A fire ignited in the same building in 2013, and five residents were taken to the hospital, including a child, according to local news reports at the time.
Los Angeles City Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas initially labeled Wednesday’s fire as “suspicious” and said authorities were looking into a possible connection with an earlier fire three blocks away. By nightfall, however, Police Captain Randall Goddard said he would not call the fire “suspicious” and that the two fires were not connected “whatsoever.”
Arson investigators were at the scene overnight.
‘Suspicious’ Los Angeles high-rise fire:11 injured, 1 gravely, on Wilshire Boulevard
More than 300 personnel and four helicopters responded to the blaze, the fire department said. Nearby Santa Monica Fire Department, the LAPD, the L.A. Sheriff and other agencies also responded.
Fifteen residents were hoisted off the roof by helicopters, Scott said.
Of the 11 people injured, seven were taken to a local hospital, including a 3-month-old girl, Scott said. One man, 30, required CPR and was in grave condition Wednesday afternoon. Another man, 30, was in critical condition.
The man in critical condition had been hanging out a window when firefighters arrived on the scene, Scott said. Firefighters were able to bring a ladder to the man to rescue him.
Two firefighters were burned by the intense flames, Scott said.
“These firefighters were literally driven to their bellies halfway through that hallway before they even got to that fire unit,” he said.
The building was significantly damaged by the fire, and residents were not allowed to sleep in their units overnight, Scott said.
“The elevators are not functional. The fire protection system is not functional,” he said.
The owner of Barrington Plaza reserved a block of hotel rooms in several hotels for tenants and set up a website and hotline, Scott said.
Douglas Emmett Inc., which owns Barrington Plaza, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Officials said a press conference was planned for Thursday morning.
Follow USA TODAY’s Grace Hauck on Twitter at @grace_hauck.