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Eight firefighters injured in Los Angeles storage 'death trap'

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[October 27, 2014]  (Reuters) - Eight firefighters were injured battling a massive fire at a Los Angeles storage facility filled with combustibles like furniture, artwork, and vinyl records but with no sprinkler system, city and fire officials said on Sunday.

More than 300 firefighters battled overnight to extinguish the blaze that erupted late on Saturday evening at a two-story Extra Space Storage in the beachside neighborhood Venice, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement.

Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin said the building was "like a death trap", lacking a sprinkler system and good ventilation with a "layout like a mouse maze."

"Smoke filled the narrow corridors. Water on the ground was boiling. Firefighters needed to rotate in and out in teams to endure the brutal conditions," Bonin said in a statement.

The storage facility is a few blocks from the neighborhood's crowded oceanfront promenade lined with vendors, performers and artists, and well-viewed Southern California hangouts such as Muscle Beach.

Five of the eight firefighters injured with minor burns and heat exhaustion were sent to area hospitals and released, said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

The cause of the fire, which took some 14 hours to extinguish, was under investigation, Humphrey said.

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About half of the building was waterlogged, with storage compartments full of charred photos, artwork, furniture, vinyl records and other belongings, including priceless family heirlooms, Humphrey said.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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