A car plowed into a bank at the Del Amo Fashion Center late Friday, leading to a raging fire that had to be fought for hours and gutted the building.
“The driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the building,” said Torrance Police Sgt. Paul Kranke. He did not know how fast the driver was going.
Officers arriving at the scene were able to rescue the two people inside the vehicle, and one was transported to a hospital, said Torrance Assistant Fire Chief Steve Treskes. The person’s condition was not known.
Firefighters and police were dispatched at 11:44 p.m. Friday in response to a report of a vehicle into the bank at Carson Street and Hawthorne Boulevard, Treskes said.
“When they got on the scene, the vehicle was completely into the structure with two occupants inside the vehicle,” he said.
Firefighters arriving at the location reported the “rapid progression” of the fire and called for assistance from multiple fire agencies — the Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles County fire departments.
Forty-six firefighters battled the blaze that was “active for about three to four hours,” Treskes said.
“Units are still out putting out hot spots,” he said on Saturday morning.
“There (are) some unique construction features to this building,” Assistant Fire Chief Jon Henderson told KTLA-TV at the scene. “It had a rubberized roof and it had a façade around it that was made of combustible metal, so it provided for a very challenging firefight.”
NBC4 said the car was a Honda sedan. The TV station reported that at one point, the bank’s ceiling collapsed.
Treskes said Saturday afternoon that the building appeared to be a total loss. It wasn’t immediately known if the bank’s vault, or any contents inside, was destroyed.
By 12:30 p.m., two northbound lanes on Hawthorne Boulevard were reopened at Carson Street, but westbound lanes on Carson Street remained closed from Del Amo Circle to Hawthorne Boulevard, officials said.
At around 9:30 a.m., Torrance city officials had urged drivers to avoid the area for the next six to eight hours.
Kranke said the driver was cited, but he did not have details. No drugs or alcohol appeared to be involved, he said.
Staff writers Nathan Percy and Marilyn Kalfus contributed to this report.