Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP
A stockpile of illegal fireworks detonated following attempts by the Los Angeles Police Department’s bomb squad to destroy the explosives. The force of the blast destroyed the department’s armored truck, injured 17 people and required the evacuation of nearby homes.
On Wednesday evening LAPD bomb squad officers were in the process of seizing more than 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks at a home in South Los Angeles, the department said. Some of those fireworks were being stored in the department’s armored trailer as a precautionary measure when it exploded.
Those injured in the blast include police officers and other first responders, but none of the injuries are believed to be life threatening, according to authorities. The explosion also damaged nearby homes.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said during the press conference Wednesday that there was a “catastrophic failure” of the truck, as it was built to handle more than what was inside.
“Clearly, protocols were followed and pursued. But something happened in that containment vessel that should not have happened and we don’t know why,” Moore said, according to KNX1070, a news radio station. “But we intend to find out.”
Fireworks are illegal to sell or own in Los Angeles. Police were searching the South L.A. home following a tip that the resident of the home had boxes of the explosives at his house.
A 27-year-old resident, Arturo Cejas, was arrested on suspicion of possessing a destructive device, according to the Associated Press. He also may face charges of child endangerment because his 10-year-old brother was in the home.
The LAPD said the area likely would be impacted for hours as officers attempted to render the location safe and continued with their investigation.
#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