The explosion happened at a hash oil manufacturer’s warehouse around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Initially, firefighters were responding to reports of a fire near Little Tokyo, but the situation quickly escalated when one of the buildings exploded.
LA Fire Department Captain Erik Scott said, “Our firefighters came down the aerial ladder from the roof with their turnout coats on fire.” He also shared what it felt like when he heard a mayday call ring out over the transmitter.
“The kind of call I always dread is a significant incident, with the potential of a lot of our firefighters injured.”
Eleven firefighters were hospitalized following the explosion and ensuing blaze. Four of the injured firefighters are in local intensive care units, and two have been placed on ventilators for “swelling of their airways from inhalation of the superheated gases.”
Dr. Marc Eckstein of the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center says that the situation is tense, but that all the firefighters should be OK. “We have every anticipation the firefighters will pull through.”
The fire department spokesperson Nicholas Prange also said, “We know we’re at risk when we go to any emergency, but we never want to see this happen. We’re always worried about a secondary explosion, we don’t know what caused the first one and we’re trying to avoid this incident becoming even worse if the second one does happen.”
Authorities are still studying the scene to determine exactly what set off the explosion and fires.
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