A cache of illegal fireworks seized at a South Los Angeles home exploded Wednesday evening, damaging nearby homes and cars and injuring at least 16 people, three of them seriously, authorities said. Police had called in a bomb squad after a tip led them to seize some 5,000 pounds of illegal home-made and China-manufactured pyrotechnics at about noon, police said. One man was arrested on suspicion of possessing fireworks and destructive devices and also on suspicion of child endangerment because two children were found at the home, police said. Some of the fireworks appeared to be large mortar-sized devices used for commercial purposes, the AP reports. “I would expect multiple houses destroyed had those explosives gone up,” LAPD Capt. Robert Long told KABC-TV.
Pallet-loads of fireworks were placed into an LAPD tractor-trailer and hauled away for disposal but at some point, some of the devices that had been placed inside an armored container on an LAPD big-rig exploded in a burst of flame, demolishing the truck. The blast, caught by news crews, also knocked a nearby car on its side, smashed the windows of several others, and blew out windows in a neighboring home. “Some of the fireworks were being stored in our Bomb Squad trailer as a precautionary measure" when there was an explosion, an LAPD tweet said, adding that it was unknown what sparked the blast. One news helicopter pilot said the blast shook his aircraft, and some residents two blocks away say they were jolted by the explosion. Police evacuated nearby homes. Building inspectors were evaluating some homes to determine if they were safe.
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