9 firefighters hurt, 2 critically, in Los Angeles area explosion involving natural gas cylinder

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Thursday, February 15, 2024
7 LAFD firefighters injured, 2 critically, in Wilmington explosion
A massive explosion involving a pressurized tank on a semitruck in Wilmington left seven firefighters injured, two of them critically.

WILMINGTON, LOS ANGELES -- A massive explosion involving a pressurized cylinder on a semitruck in the Los Angeles area on Thursday morning left nine firefighters injured, including two who were critically hurt, officials said.

The incident occurred shortly before 7 a.m. in the area of Alameda Street and Henry Ford Avenue in Wilmington, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Twelve firefighters "responded to a truck with pressurized cylinders on fire," the agency said in a statement. The blast happened six minutes after they arrived.

Officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center provided an update on the conditions of nine firefighters who were injured when a semitruck's natural gas tank exploded.

Several firefighters were immediately rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and others were initially evaluated at the scene before they too were hospitalized. One of the firefighters was later airlifted to a burn center for specialty care.

The uninjured driver was cooperating with investigators, Capt. Erik Scott told reporters at a news conference held outside the hospital.

Video from sister station KABC's AIR7 HD showed the charred wreckage of the burned semitruck, which had no trailer attached. The vehicle was fueled by two 100-gallon tanks containing compressed natural gas, an LAFD spokesperson said, adding that only one of them exploded. Afterward, the other tank was being "gassed off" as a precaution.

An explosion involving pressurized tanks on a truck in Wilmington left as many as seven firefighters injured.
An explosion involving pressurized tanks on a truck in Wilmington left as many as seven firefighters injured.

Several fire engines, apparently undamaged, were seen nearby. A 500-foot perimeter was established around the blast site.

"Residents are encouraged to stay inside," the LAFD said. "There are no homes within the immediate danger zone and no formal evacuations have been ordered."

A doorbell camera in the area captured video footage of the fiery explosion, which ignited a fireball that reached as high as suspended power lines and resulted in an electrical transformer explosion.

In the aftermath, more than 150 firefighters responded to the location, including a hazardous materials team. The public was urged to avoid the area.

The Fire Department initially said the blast involved a tank on a fire engine, and that three firefighters were in critical condition.