The fire began on the second floor of the vacant two-story office building, and firefighters had to rescue five people. One of the five ended up dying, officials said.
Residents in downtown Los Angeles complained of heavy smoke as the blaze burned through the roof of the building.
Many across the Southland saw the smoke from miles away.
“We were feet away, and they were like 10 to 15 feet high,” Aurora Curtis, a witness, said of the flames.
They burned close enough for Curtis to feel the intense heat on her body.
“I just hoped the building was empty,” Curtis said.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s arson unit detained a man for questioning, but had to yet to make any arrests.