Blast Injures 11 Firefighters in 'One of Worst Scenes'

LAFD was responding to blaze at hash oil manufacturer when the building exploded
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 17, 2020 6:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – 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, reports the AP. Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said “one significant explosion" shook the neighborhood around 6:30pm. 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 like a freight train or jet engine. Some of the fleeing firefighters were on fire and tore off their protective equipment and left it on the sidewalk, along with melted helmets, Scott said. “The was one of the worst scenes I’ve seen,” he said.

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All 11 firefighters suffered burns ranging from minor to serious. Three were listed as critical, and two were on ventilators. “The good news is everybody’s going to make it," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. Firefighters were called to 327 East Boyd St. in the city’s Toy District. LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said one of the firefighters inside the building thought things didn't seem right and told everyone to get out, and as they did, the building was rocked by the explosion. More than 230 firefighters rushed to the scene, per KTLA, as the fire spread to several nearby buildings; firefighters were able to douse it in about an hour. Scott said the building was a warehouse for SmokeTokes, which he described as a maker of “butane honey oil." Butane is an odorless gas that easily ignites, and it's used in the process to extract THC from cannabis to create hash oil. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

(Read more firefighters stories.)

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