Downtown Structure Fire Explosion Injures 11 Firefighters
Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Fire Department were on scene within four minutes from the 6:26 p.m. call on Saturday, for a structure fire with moderate smoke showing on the 300 block of E Boyd Street in downtown. Upon arrival, the firefighters engaged in an aggressive attack on the one-story commercial building, entering the building to continue the fight. It was then that the firefighters, according to Chief Ralph Terrazas, felt the heat intensity rise. As they exited, an explosion occurred, as well as a reported flash. A MAYDAY call went out escalating the fire to an emergency situation as 11 firefighters suffered injuries from the explosion. Additional units responded to what became a Major Emergency incident. According to LAFD, a medical branch was created to attend to the injured firefighters at the scene before being transported for treatment, while other crews continued to fight the fire that reportedly spread to other buildings. Knockdown, from this intense situation, was achieved at 8:08 p.m. The occupant doing business at the location is "Smoke Tokes Wholesale Distributor," reportedly a supplier for those who make butane honey oil, according to LAFD.
A night press conference with Mayor Garcetti, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas, and doctors from the burn and trauma center of County/USC, updated the situation of the injured firefighters.
Chief Terrazas stated that firefighters came off the roof with their coats on fire, and he said the fire is being actively investigated. It was confirmed that 11 firefighters were transported to County/USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) which contains both a trauma and burn center, making it well equipped to face the challenge of attending to 11 injured firefighters. The firefighters suffered various first and second degree burn injuries to backs, arms, back of ears, hands, as well as blast and inhalation injuries.
It was also reported that overall, the firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries, but two that were considered to have life-threatening injuries upon arrival to the hospital, are now listed in critical condition. Swelling in the lungs, from the super heated gasses, caused some firefighters to be placed on ventilators. Four firefighters went to the ICU, and the rest are in the burn ward. The doctors appeared to be optimistic that all of the 11 injured firefighters will make a full recovery. COVID-19 protocols are in place to protect the firefighters while being treated.
LAFD Chief Terrazas updated the condition on the firefighters around noon on Sunday:
On Tuesday, May 17, 2020, Chief Terrazas updated information in regard to the fire investigation:
"LAFD arson investigators have been joined by LAPD Major Crimes Unit and the National Response Team from the ATF- together this large and experienced group of investigators will work to determine the cause and origin of this destructive fire. The findings of this investigation will be the basis for LAFD's efforts to make sure this type of fire never happens again."
Andrew Loera photos, Key News Network