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'Historic' Los Angeles fire engulfs city block

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Damian Dovarganes/AP

(Read caption) Los Angeles County firefighters battle a fire at an apartment building under construction next to the Harbor CA-110 Freeway in Los Angeles, early Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. The building was not occupied, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.

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A massive fire at an apartment building under construction in downtown Los Angeles Monday morning closed freeways and damaged nearby buildings. 

About 250 firefighters were on the scene to battle the blaze. The firefighters were able to extinguish the majority of the fire within 90 minutes, according to the Los Angeles Times. No injuries were reported.

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The building covered an entire block with the bottom two stories made of concrete and the upper five floors comprised of a wood frame, The Times reports, noting that most of the structure was lost. Heat from the fire was reportedly so intense that it melted street signs and broke windows in neighboring buildings. Although arson investigators have been on the scene, no cause has yet been reported.

Photos on social media showed flames shooting into the air with drivers on the road. The fire could reportedly be seen from miles away.

"This is a historic fire, what we as firefighters would call 'a career fire,' " Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told NBC News. "It's huge. I really can't remember a building fire this big and I have been with the department for 13 years."

The building is part of a series of upscale apartment complexes that have sprouted in downtown L.A. over the past decade as part of the area's revitalization. The building, developed by Geoffrey Palmer, advertises itself as offering the luxury of European-style living in the heart of downtown L.A.

However, these buildings have also received criticism for their design and for failing to consider the city's planning needs for the future. Writing in the L.A. Times in May of this year, columnist Steve Lopez referred to the building and others like it as "Death Star monstrosities" and said that their faux-Italianate architecture "translates as 'tacky.' " Moreover, Lopez criticized the development for failing to consider future communities that will grow around it, noting that "that kind of thinking has given us a hundred years of bad planning in L.A." 

"You don't plan for what's there now," he wrote. "You plan for 10, 50, and 100 years down the line, and in the process, you help design and contribute to the full organic potential of the neighborhood." 

In addition to the downtown fire, which began around 1:20 a.m. Pacfic Standard Time, about three hours later a fire was reported at a mixed-use building about 2 miles to the west. About 100 firefighters are on that scene.

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There is no evidence to connect the fires, the L.A. Times reports. 

This report includes material from the Associated Press.