It's Los Angeles, California and there is a small earthquake and no one really cares. What they don't know that there is now a small but getting bigger Volcano now growing in the La Brea Tar Pits. Emergency Manager Mike Roark (Tommy Lee Jones) does not feel comfortable about it. He gets in touch with his assistant Emmit Reese (Don Cheadle) and they confer as to what has just happened.
Mike decides to come in anyway, he just doesn't feel right. He gets his daughter Kelly (Gaby Hoffman) and they head to town. On the way all hell breaks loose. Now Mike has been in touch with a seismologist Dr. Amy Barnes (Anne Heche), who is out doing some tests on her own. Mike is trying to get where she is set up and is sidetracked when he comes into the area around the Tar Pits. You see fire bombs are coming out of the Pits and destroying buildings and everything else they can land on.
Dr. Jaye Caulder (Jacqueline Kim) was out driving when all broke loose and starts to help with triage for all that are hurt. They have made a local hospital the central command post and she has some firefighters she is trying to get there. Mike and his daughter get caught in the onslaught of fire bombs and then comes the lava out of the pits.
Los Angeles is about to burn but when you get Mike and Police Lt. Ed Fox (Keith David) and some fire chiefs together you start to get some things done. Mike eventually teams up with Dr. Barnes and learns that what has happened is they have a volcano building in downtown Los Angeles. A barricade is set up to divert some of the lava, but all it does is cause more trouble.
So does Los Angeles burn like some people have been saying for years or does it save itself. It is up to you to finish watching and find out who lives or dies. Director Mick Jackson brings us one of the major catastrophe films and does a pretty good job of it. Can this happen to the city and if it does would it be like this? That's up to you to find out. So enjoy and maybe you could be like Nero and watch a city burn, or not.