The apartment building fire that sent smoke high into the sky over Pico Rivera and injured three possibly erupted due to plumbing work, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Friday.
The blaze started around 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Corsica Apartment Homes complex on the 91000 block of Burke Street. It injured two civilians and a firefighter and displaced some 300 people, officials said.
Although it remained under investigation, the Sheriff's Department tweeted that by "all indications" the fire was "most likely caused by plumbing work."
Authorities said they did not suspect the fire to be criminal in nature.
Crews responded to the scene two minutes after the incident was reported, county fire Chief Daryl Osby said Thursday evening.
A resident named Jesse told KTLA that he banged on his neighbors' doors and pulled two different alarms on the second and third floors, but neither worked.
"I scared a couple of kids but I thank God they got out safely." he said.
Property managers did not respond to requests for comment.
The blaze caused the attic to collapse onto the top floor of the three-story building and damaged at least 45 units, authorities said at a news conference Friday.
City officials later said that one structure referred to as Building D had been completely red-tagged, while staircases providing access to two other structures in the four-building complex would have to be rebuilt in the next several days. Some of the units at the east end of the latter two structures had also sustained significant damage and would be red-tagged, but it was unclear exactly how many.
One of the buildings, referred to as Building A, sustained no damage, but residents wouldn't be able to return until the complex's damaged master gas meter was fixed, officials said. The repairs were expected to take three to five days.
Pico Rivera Mayor Gustavo Camacho commended crews for evacuating everybody out of the building, as well as the community for the immediate outpour of donations of water, food and clothing for displaced residents.
With assistance from the Red Cross, an evacuation center was set up at the Rivera Park on 9530 Shade Lane.
City officials said they were also working with the property's owners to provide hotel accommodations for displaced residents. They also asked for the following:
1. Cell phone chargers
2. Dog food
3. School supplies
4. Pet leashes
5. Lip balm
6. Hair brushes
7. Men's under shirts
8. Women's undergarments, plus sizes
9. Bath towels
10. Vapor rub
11. Volunteers to sort clothing donations
Rescued pets were taken to an animal shelter in Downey, officials said.
Those affected can contact the city's fire victim resource center at 562-801-4454.