The Los Angeles Library Facebook page carried this picture--I sure would not have remembered otherwise. April 29, 1986, was the day that an arson fire broke out just before 11 AM at the mail library on 5th Street. By 5 PM, 60 units and 350 firefighters were involved.
Here's a sample: "As the heat and fire crept through the building, fire attack companies were forced to withdraw and be replaced every 15 minutes. Every time a hose line was opened up inside, super-heated steam pushed the fire attack company back."
In the end, 350,000-400,000 books--$20 million worth--were destroyed outright. Water and smoke damaged more. Still, according to the LAFD Historical Archive, 8.5 million books were saved.
Was the arsonist ever caught? I think not.