At least 17 people were injured Wednesday night by a failed controlled detonation in an operation to seize thousands of kilos of illegal fireworks by a bomb squad of The Angels, authorities said.
The explosion blew the top of a special truck for controlled detonations and produced a fireball over the southern neighborhood of The angels where the incident occurred, according to images shown by local television stations.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michael Moore told a news conference that 10 officers and seven civilians suffered non-life threatening injuries.
The explosion damaged homes and smashed windows in the neighborhood.
Moore added that they still had no explanations as to why the “totally catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle”, specially designed to withstand detonations, occurred.
“This vehicle should have been able to dispose of that material safely,” he said. “The protocols were addressed and followed, but something happened in the containment vehicle that shouldn’t have happened and we don’t know why.”
The squad responded to a call denouncing an illegal fireworks depot in a private residence, and found in the courtyard a cache of commercial-use fireworks boxes stacked in towers between two and three meters high and weighing estimated at 2,300 kilos.
While the fireworks were being seized, officers discovered homemade explosive devices made from soda cans and simple wicks, Moore said.
The devices were transported to the truck and detonated around 6:40 PM local time (1:40 AM GMT Thursday). A resident of the house that was hiding the explosives, Arturo Cejas, 27, was arrested and charged with possession of a destructive device.
The police also want to accuse him of endangering a minor after finding his 10-year-old brother in the house.
“We understand that this explosive material was acquired out of state [de California] and transported here for the purpose of reselling to community members and neighbors for use during this July 4th holiday, ”said Moore.
The drought-stricken city of Los Angeles launched a fireworks buy-back program before the holidays in hopes of stopping the illegal sale and use of prohibited pyrotechnics.
Last year, the Los Angeles police reported the seizure of more than four tons of fireworks.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.