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Port of L.A. fire extinguished; crews begin demolition, repairs

Port of L.A. fire
A plume of toxic fumes from a stubborn fire at the Port of Los Angeles billows Sept. 23 as firefighters attack the blaze from fire boats.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The Port of Los Angeles fire that sent a thick plume of toxic smoke into the air Tuesday, forcing a nearby elementary school to evacuate, has been fully extinguished, officials said Wednesday.

Crews will now begin the process of demolition and cleanup after the fire smoldered for more than a day in multiple layers of heavy pre-World War II timber soaked in dark, tar-like liquid creosote.

The wharf fire was declared extinguished at 3:07 a.m. Wednesday after more than 32 hours of active firefighting, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Land and sea crews were to remain at the scene to mop up the smoldering remains of the fire.

Also on Wednesday morning: clear skies -- a welcome development for crews “tired of breathing smoke and smelling like smoke," said Sgt. James Nua of the Los Angeles Port Police Department.

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Concerned about poor air quality, the South Coast Air Quality Management District had advised residents to stay indoors after shifting winds on Tuesday sent smoke inland. 

Students at De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington were evacuated by bus to Olguin High School in San Pedro until air quality improved and they could be shuttled back. 

Port officials said all terminals affected by the blaze resumed operations at 6 p.m. Tuesday night, except for the Pasha terminal at Berth 177, where the fire occurred.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com

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