Welding torch ignites massive Port of Los Angeles fire

A massive fire broke out at the Port of Los Angeles Monday night, burning part of a dock and threatening a warehouse and ship. (KNBC)

WILMINGTON, Calif. (KNBC) — A massive fire broke out at the Port of Los Angeles Monday night, burning part of a dock and threatening a warehouse and ship. The flames broke out on the wharf about 6:40 p.m. local time, shutting down the main channel.

A welding torch started the fire that burned the chemical-coated pier, sending clouds of smoke over the sprawling complex and forcing worker evacuations and the closure of at least one school.

The fire burned thick pier timber coated in creosote, a wood preservative, and will likely smolder for several more hours, according to fire officials. The LAFD and the Los Angeles Police Department advised neighbors in Wilmington, San Pedro and Long Beach to remain indoors and keep windows closed.

“Any long duration of exposure to this smoke can be hazardous,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jaime Moore.

School police said they have contacted two schools just north of the complex about air quality conditions. Private St. Peter and Paul Elementary School will be closed Tuesday, but Los Angeles Unified School District officials said George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School will be open.

“The fumes were not detected to be at a hazardous level beyond the immediate vicinity,” said Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas.

Dozens of firefighters responded to battle the massive blaze. Crews attacked the fire from both water and land.

Thick black smoke and flames could be seen shooting into the night sky from as far as Downtown Los Angeles. Four workers had to be evacuated from a nearby warehouse, and more than 800 terminal employees were evacuated. Several boats docked at the wharf had to be towed to safety.

No injuries were reported.

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