LOS ANGELES — An explosion Saturday at a hash oil manufacturer in downtown Los Angeles injured 11 firefighters who had gone inside and on the roof to try to knock down a fire and then had to run for their lives when a ball of flames shot out the building and scorched a fire truck across the street.
Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said “one significant explosion” shook the neighborhood around 6:30 p.m. Firefighters inside had to run through a wall of flames he estimated as 30 feet high and wide, and those on the roof scrambled down a ladder that was engulfed in fire.
Scott said people at the scene described the explosion as sounding sort of a rattler or reaction-propulsion engine . a number of the fleeing firefighters were ablaze and tore off their protective equipment and left it on the sidewalk, along side melted helmets, Scott said.
“The was one among the worst scenes I’ve seen,” he said.
All 11 firefighters suffered burns starting from minor to serious. Three were listed as critical condition, and two of them were on ventilators. All were expected to survive.
“The excellent news is everybody’s getting to make it,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a press conference outside the l. a. County-University of Southern California center where all the injured were treated.
“Things could have been so much worse,” said Los Angeles Fire Department Medical Director Dr. Marc Eckstein, who works at the hospital and helped treat the injured.
Firefighters were called to 327 East Boyd St. within the city’s Toy District for a report of a fireplace at a one-story commercial building. There was light to moderate smoke when firefighters entered the building and went on the roof, normal procedures to undertake to quickly knock down any flames.
Los Angeles fire marshal Ralph Terrazas said one among the firefighters inside the building thought things didn’t seem right — the pressure from the smoke and warmth coming from the rear of the building were increasing. He directed everyone to urge out, and as they quickly started exiting the building because it was rocked by the explosion.
Firefighters on the roof scrambled down ladders with their protective coats ablaze . The wall of flames shot out the building and burned seats inside a fireplace truck across the road .
More than 200 firefighters rushed to the scene, and dozens of engines, trucks and rescue vehicles clogged the streets. the hearth spread to many nearby buildings, but firefighters were ready to douse it in about an hour.
The injured firefighters were rushed to the hospital. those that remained at the scene, unaware of the seriousness of their colleagues’ injuries, were traumatized by what had transpired, Terrazas said.
“You can imagine the quantity of emotional stress,” he said.
Scott said the building was a warehouse for SmokeTokes, which he described as a maker of “butane K .” Butane is an odorless gas that easily ignites, and it’s utilized in the method to extract the high-inducing chemical THC from cannabis to make a highly potent concentrate also referred to as hash oil. The oil is employed in vape pens, edibles, waxes and other products.
On its website, SmokeTokes advertises a variety of products including “puff bars,” pipes, “dab” tools, vaporizers, “torches and butane,” and cartridges. The company says it is “an international distributor and wholesaler of smoking and vaping products, and related accessories.” Founded in 2009, it offers “discounts to loyal customers, fast shipping, a huge catalog of products and customer service that is untouched.”
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Source: ABC NEWS