Smoke in downtown L.A. awful? No advisory, but some are uncomfortable

No air quality advisories have been issued in downtown Los Angeles after Monday morning's massive fire, but some area employers were handing out masks to make breathing more comfortable for workers.

The fire destroyed an apartment tower under construction near the 110 Freeway early Monday, melted freeway signs, burst windows and sent a plume of black smoke into the air above downtown Los Angeles.


A security guard handed out masks to employees at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services headquarters after some complained of discomfort from the smoke. Others who were uncomfortable opted to go home.

Still, the smoke wasn't hazardous enough to spur any air quality advisories.

The air downtown did not show any high levels of fine particulate matter usually seen during structure blazes and wildfires, said Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

And the smoke may stick around Monday because of weak onshore winds, he said.

Before the fire, the district had issued a wood-burning ban for residents of L.A. and Orange counties and the Inland Empire because of the weak winds, which create stagnant air and high concentrations of fine particulates. The ban is in effect until midnight Monday.

As of 11:51 a.m. Monday, the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center had not seen any patients with respiratory issues related to the smoke and fire, hospital spokeswoman Rosa Saca said.

At the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where at least 160 windows had been cracked by intense heat from the fire, Building and Security Services staff was monitoring air quality for their workers and visitors.

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