Firefighters Defeat Stubborn Commercial Fire

A stubborn fire damaged a two-story commercial building Friday morning in downtown Los Angeles, but no one was hurt.

The fire at Yoni Distributors, at 963 East 11th St., was reported just after 4:30 a.m., drawing 150 firefighters to the scene, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Melissa Kelley.

It took more than an hour and a half to get the flames out, according to Capt. Armando Hogan.  The biggest challenge for firefighters was getting on the property in the first place.

"A lot of the downtown buildings are fortified," Capt. Hogan said, "meaning a lot of security measures in place for the safety of their building."

The owner of the company, Yoni "G," declined comment, his landlord saying he was too distraught to speak.

"When I told him, he was a nervous wreck," said Eyal Pinchassi, who's leased the space to Yoni for nearly 25 years.  "He almost cried on the phone."

Firefighters say the reason the fire was able to burn so long has to do with the electronic equipment inside.  Yoni Distributors is a manufacturer for car audio systems.  Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to nearby buildings but say there will undoubtedly be millions of dollars in damage.

And yet, even in a rough economy, Pinchassi says Yoni will likely make a come-back.

"He's a very motivated guy," he says, "I'm sure he'll get back on his feet and he'll be right back at it."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.  Arson has not been ruled out.

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