Accelerant sparked Da Vinci fire, officials say, as reward hits $170,000

The reward offer jumped to $170,000 for an arrest and conviction in last month's massive fire at a downtown Los Angeles construction site as investigators revealed an accelerant was used to start the blaze.

Investigators are continuing their probe of the fire that consumed the seven-story Da Vinci apartment building under construction in the 900 block of Fremont Avenue. But more information is needed to "close the loop," said Special Agent Carlos Canino with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


"This is a huge fire," he said at a Wednesday morning news conference. "We feel very strongly it's solvable."

Councilman Jose Huizar proposed a $75,000 reward Tuesday, which still needs L.A. City Council approval. After that, the owner of the DaVinci property matched the $75,000 reward, and the ATF offered up $20,000.

Canino confirmed that an accelerant was used to start the fire, which was the size of a city block and created a 7-foot-high debris pile.

Investigators used shovels and wheelbarrows to comb through several tons of debris at the site and were able to pinpoint the origin of the fire to a 10,000-square-foot area, he said.

No one was injured in the Dec. 8 fire, which took 250 firefighters an hour and half to extinguish.

The blaze caused damage to the 110 Freeway and nearby buildings. It resulted in $25 million to $30 million in damage, city officials said.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said the fire not only put the lives of firefighters at risk but also put a great strain on resources citywide.

Officials are hoping to renew public interest in the case so they can find whoever started the fire.

"It's a miracle that in a major fire like this no one was killed or injured," Huizar said.

The fire, he said, put the city in danger.

Officials are urging anyone with information about the fire to contact authorities. The LAFD arson unit can be reached at (213) 893-9850.

A week after the fire, authorities released images and surveillance video of two potential witnesses who were at or near the fire. Authorities said they were hoping to talk to them for their investigation.

"Any little bit of information helps," Huizar said.

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