An explosion in Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday evening burned multiple buildings and injured 11 firefighters before it was extinguished, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
An initial fire occurred at 327 E Boyd St, south of Little Tokyo and near Skid Row, where firefighters were responding to a one-story commercial building with smoke. The department issued an updated statement, less than a half hour later, saying approximately 10 firefighters were “down” following an explosion, and that the situation had “been upgraded to a major emergency.”
Helicopter coverage from NBC News Los Angeles appears to show the flames mostly extinguished as of 7:45 pm, reports The Los Angeles Times. The fire department said at 8:08pm that 11 firefighters had burns and other injuries of unknown severity.
In a statement late Saturday evening, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that all 11 of the injured firefighters were in stable condition: “Our hearts go out to their loved ones and fellow first responders. We are keeping them in our prayers.”
Tonight, 11 @LAFD firefighters were injured battling a blaze in downtown L.A. All of them are being treated for their injuries and in stable condition at this time. Our hearts go out to their loved ones and fellow first responders. We are keeping them in our prayers. pic.twitter.com/RRoUNPgLBt
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) May 17, 2020
A person purportedly near the scene around the time of the explosion posted a video on Twitter of flames bursting out of a building. A large plume of smoke is also visible in the video.
Major fire in Little Tokyo/downtown Los Angeles at San Pedro and Third. Dangerously close to Skid Row residents, senior and low income housing. Major smoke screen, ash is raining for blocks. pic.twitter.com/s4coh3xbgq
— sean miura (@seanmiura) May 17, 2020
The Los Angeles Fire Department said that 230 firefighters were responding to the scene as of 7:05pm, and that firefighters had moved to a defensive posture and a medical branch had been created for injured firefighters.
“As our firefighters were making their entry in and finding the seat of the fire, there was a significant explosion,” said Eric Scott, captain for the Los Angeles Fire Department, during a press conference later in the evening. “Tragically, we have approximately 11 firefighters with burn injuries.”
“The fire truck that [was] completely across the street has been blackened,” said Scott, who noted that “some arriving resources” at the scene saw a “significant explosion — very high, very wide — rumbling the entire area, and firefighters were coming out with obvious damage and burns.”
In a statement around two hours after the initial fire, the Los Angeles Fire Department said that the source of the fire was still under active investigation. The department also disclosed that “the occupancy was doing business as Smoke Tokes Wholesale Distributor, reportedly a supplier for those who make butane honey oil,” but did not make any determinations.
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