Venice beachfront property destroyed in early-morning fire

A fire that broke out before dawn Wednesday in Venice destroyed a two-story building along the beachfront, authorities said.

The blaze erupted at a homeless encampment on the south side of the commercial building in the 700 block of South Ocean Front Walk, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Flames quickly overtook the nearly 7,000-square-foot structure. No injuries were reported, officials said.

Shortly after firefighters arrived, the building, constructed in 1953, became “structurally comprised,” Humphrey said, adding, “the roof came in, the walls were starting to shift.”

Because the fire rendered the building unstable, firefighters could not enter it to battle the flames. They instead circled the structure and used a drone to provide visual assistance.

The blaze briefly threatened a pair of adjacent properties, including a two-story apartment complex, Humphrey said. Firefighters knocked on residents’ doors to make sure they were awake, and several came out to watch as 116 firefighters battled the blaze.

It took just under two and a half hours to knock the fire down. It’s believed that the structure, now destroyed, was vacant when the fire began.

An investigation launched to determine the cause of the fire is a “top priority” because of the size of the fire and the destruction it caused, Humphrey said. It’s one of the largest blazes the department has encountered in several days, he added.