Well, that didn’t go as planned.
At around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Los Angeles police officers attempting to safely detonate some of the 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks seized from a South L.A. home accidentally caused an explosion that injured 17 people and rocked an entire neighborhood.
“It sounded like an explosion but it felt like an earthquake,” a person who was in the area told KTLA. According to the station, ten of the injured people are LAPD officers, one is an ATF officer, and six are civilians, including three who suffered “moderate” injuries; all other injuries were minor.
#BreakingNews LAPD Bomb techs trying to safety dispose of several Improvised Fireworks inside the Dept Total Containment Vessel miscalculated and resulting blast destroyed containment sphere and blew out windows for blocks. At least 3 people transported. @KNX1070 pic.twitter.com/AEOUw60fwH
— Pete Demetriou (@knxpete) July 1, 2021
Police say the detonation—which took place in a semi-truck with an iron chamber—involved fewer than ten pounds of the explosives.
“Something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened,” Police Chief Michel Moore said at a news conference on Wednesday. “And we don’t know why, but we intend to find out why.”
On Twitter, many observers wondered why police would attempt to dispose of the fireworks smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Lieutenant Raul Jovel explained that it was because the homemade fireworks they’d confiscated had been determined to be “very volatile.” The explosives that were found at a home on E. 27th Street in Historic South Central were described as being “coke can-sized” devices with fuses.
According to Jovel, officers went door to door in the neighborhood to evacuate residents before the detonation, but several didn’t open their doors. Some of those people were reportedly injured in the explosion.
As bone dry condition persist, the city has been working overtime to crack down on fireworks in advance of the July 4 weekend. On Wednesday, officials hosted a fireworks buy-back program at a park in Mission Hills, offering people gift cards for their illegal fireworks. City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office has been sending cease and desist letters to online platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, where fireworks sales were proliferating. Under L.A. Municipal Code section 57.5608.1.2, it is unlawful and a misdemeanor to use, sell, possess or discharge any fireworks in the City of Los Angeles.
But, hey, there’s always the sanctioned displays.
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