A rubbish fire beneath the long-vacant Hawthorne Plaza shopping center sent a thick plume of smoke into the South Bay air Wednesday, but it was knocked down in about two hours with no injuries reported.

The fire was reported about 9:35 a.m. at the former mall in the 12100 block of South Hawthorne Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The blaze quickly went to a second alarm, and then to a third alarm, with more than 80 firefighters sent to the scene, the fire department reported.

Firefighters extinguished the flames by about 11:30 a.m., the fire department reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Fire officials initially reported the blaze was in a single-story structure, but crews on scene reported the fire was centered beneath a multi-story building, with heavy smoke coming from an underground parking garage. The blaze was eventually tracked to a large pile of rubbish located about 300 feet in the subterranean structure.

Hawthorne Boulevard between 120th Street and El Segundo Boulevard was heavily restricted due to the large fire department response, creating some traffic delays for area motorists.

Hawthorne Plaza opened in 1977 but closed in 1999. The shopping plaza was anchored by JC Penney, Montgomery Ward and The Broadway stores.

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