UPDATE: Saturday’s DTLA Explosion Is the Subject of a ‘Significant’ Arson Investigation

A dozen LAFD firefighters were injured, but all are expected to survive

Update 5/18/20:

The Saturday evening fire and subsequent explosion that injured a total of 12 Los Angeles firefighters has reportedly become the subject of a “widening” arson investigation. LAFD Captain Erik Scott tells the OC Register that the investigation is “one of the most significant in years” for the department.

“Our job is first and foremost to follow the facts to determine where the fire actually originated,” LAFD Captain Patrick Leonard of the department’s Arson and Counterterrorism Section tells the paper. “Once we determine that, we look for heat sources in that area that could lead to the source of the fire. We’re not going to know those things until we go piece by piece.” Leonard says they don’t jump to conclusions and start every investigation with the presumption that no crime took place.

The business where the fire broke out, SmokeTokes, is reportedly a maker and distributor of “butane honey oil” for vape pens. In 2016, a fire broke out at a previous SmokeTokes location across the alley from the current space on Boyd Street in the Toy District. LAFD Captain Scott says the department is looking into that case as well.

Published 5/17/20:

A fire that caused a major explosion in DTLA on Saturday evening is reported to have been powerful enough to melt the helmets and ignite the coats of responding Los Angeles firefighters.

According to the LAFD, firefighters found smoke coming from a one-story commercial building, reportedly SmokeTokes, a wholesale distributor of butane oil located on Boyd Street near Little Tokyo. When firefighters entered to “chase the seat of the fire,” a “significant” explosion occurred. LAFD Captain Erik Scott told CNN it was like going through “a 30-foot-tall blow torch.”


According to CNN, a total of 12 firefighters were injured and four were taken to the Burn Intensive Care Center at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.


People in the area began reporting seeing plumes smoke at around 6:30 p.m., which is reportedly when the mayday call came in from firefighters involved in the blast. More than 230 firefighters reported to fire, which spread to adjacent buildings.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to LAFD.

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