April 13, 2021

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Home explosion caused by a ‘large amount of fireworks’ leaves 2 dead, leads to evacuation in Ontario, California – USA TODAY

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Southern California first responders are investigating after “a large amount of fireworks at a house ignited,” causing an explosion that left two dead and leaving behind a towering column of smoke.

Video of the incident has gone viral on social media. 

The incident at an Ontario, California, house caused a “loud explosion,” according to the city. Local police and fire departments are investigating alongside the FBI and the state fire marshal, the Ontario Fire Department’s chief added. Two died in the explosion and fire, officials said. 

The fire department received reports about the explosion shortly after noon Tuesday. 

“Once they got on scene, there was a series of large explosions in the area and it was very evident that we had a lot of commercial-grade fireworks that were going off at the time,” Ontario Fire Department Chief Ray Gayk told reporters during a press conference. He added about 50 firefighters responded to the scene. 

Gayk said the people who died haven’t been identified. Two horses and a dog needed to be rescued. The area was still being cleared Tuesday afternoon. 

The Ontario Fire Department issued an evacuation order for the area around the explosion and closed several roads. 

“A large amount of fireworks at a house ignited, causing a large structure fire,” the City of Ontario tweeted. “Explosions being heard are by fireworks at this time.”

Van Vant stands in front of her home damaged home after a nearby fireworks stash exploded in Ontario, Calif., Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Watchara Phomicinda/The Orange County Register via AP) ORG XMIT: CAANR302

Videos taken by those within earshot of the explosion and posted to social media show a plume of smoke rising into the air, accompanied by the pops and flashes of multiple fireworks. 

One Twitter user said the explosion “shook our whole neighborhood.” Another, replying to the City of Ontario’s initial tweet about the incident, tweeted a video from a freeway showing the a column of smoke

The Ontario Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY. The Ontario Fire Department’s website has a reminder for residents that all fireworks are illegal within the city. 

“Please help keep our community safe and free from all fireworks,” the website says. “Those caught with illegal fireworks will be subject to a $1,000 fine, citation and/or arrest; including confiscation of all illegal fireworks.”

Ontario is about 37 miles east of Los Angeles. The city advised locals to stay clear of the area. 

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