- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A fire sparked by a cutting tool gutted an unfinished apartment building in the Toluca Lake neighborhood on Friday and spread to an occupied complex next door, where a woman jumped from the second story to escape the smoke and flames, fire officials said.

The woman, who was in her mid-30s, suffered only a minor burn. But she later asked to go the hospital after learning that her pet had died in the fire, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said. A 36-year-old woman with smoke inhalation and a firefighter also were treated at a hospital.

The blaze erupted shortly before 12:30 p.m. in a partially built apartment complex on Riverton Avenue.

“The building was not occupied and (was) being demolished,” Stewart said. “A cutting tool sparked and set it off accidentally,”

The blaze quickly engulfed the framing timbers in enormous sheets of flame so fierce that firefighters stood off and turned hoses on the building from outside.

The fire also jumped to a three-story neighboring apartment building, destroying six units, fire officials said.

Firefighters climbed onto the roof and tore it open to vent flames as thick black smoke poured from the side of the building. The fire or its radiant heat also scorched cars parked on the nearby street.

“I was kind of scared. I’d never seen a fire that big before, and it was really hot … it just happened so quickly,” Saif Rahman, who lives across the street from the burned building, told KCAL-TV.

Jennifer Zharinova, 36, who lives next to the burned building, said she smelled smoke, but she wasn’t concerned because “people barbecue all the time” in her neighborhood. However, her housekeeper, who was in an apartment next door, rushed up to tell her about the fire.

Zharinova said she used a garden hose to put out a bush that caught fire from embers that fell into her yard.

There was “tons of smoke,” she said. “You can barely breathe. We’re all wearing masks.”

That was a concern, Zharinova said, because “I just found out I’m pregnant yesterday.”

It took nearly 125 firefighters about an hour to douse the blaze.

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