Nearly 170 firefighters respond to massive fire at vacant motel in Van Nuys

Firefighters this afternoon poured water on a "major emergency fire,'' possibly the result of arson, that tore through a vacant two-story Van Nuys apartment building that was converted into a motel.

The blaze was reported just after 2 p.m. at 6500 N. Sepulveda Blvd. (map) in a building that had been converted into the Voyager Motor Inn, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The motel was closed and vacant at the time of the fire, which engulfed the building and caused a partial collage.

Nearly 170 firefighters responded, Humphrey said. They were in "defensive operations,'' fighting the fire from outside the structure and working to keep the flames from spreading to adjacent buildings.

Knockdown was finally declared at 4:57 p.m., Humphrey said.

City police and Department of Transportation crews were requested to block busy Sepulveda Boulevard, a half block north of Victory Boulevard.

Smoke was visible from across the San Fernando Valley, and fire engines were rushed from other parts of the city to cover Van Nuys-area fire stations.

No injuries were immediately reported.

The cause of the fire was under investigation, but fire department officials told a reporter at the scene it had multiple start points, indicating arson.

There was a fire at the motel, with arson suspected, within the past year and previous fires before that, a department official said at the scene.

A neighbor complained that the building attracted homeless people, but there was no immediate indication that any were responsible for this fire or others at that address.

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