Seventeen people were injured, including police officers, in Los Angeles on Wednesday after authorities tried to safely detonate explosive devices that were seized from a home.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) received a call about fireworks being held at a local home. Upon reporting to the scene, officers found improvised explosive devices and approximately 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks.
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said during a news conference that the improvised explosive devices were “more unstable,” according to the Times.
The devices, weighing in at less than 10 pounds, were transferred to the iron chamber of a bomb squad truck, which can normally handle 18 pounds, the Times reported. The truck is meant to contain explosive material.
When the devices were detonated in the truck at 7:37 p.m., however, there was a “total catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle,” Moore said.
Moore said the department does not know why the truck did not contain the explosion despite protocols being followed but said “we intend to find out why.”
“Clearly protocols were followed and pursued, but something happened in that containment vehicle that should have not happened and we don’t know why. ... We intend to find out why,” Moore said.
The blast injured 17 people, ranging in age from 42 to 85, and damaged homes, according to the Times. Authorities said nine LAPD officers and one officer from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) received treatment for minor injuries and are in fair condition.
Six civilians were transported to the hospital, three of which sustained serious injuries and the other three minor injuries, the Times reported. One individual was evaluated for injuries but not taken to the hospital.
Moore said that none of the injuries sustained were life-threatening, according to the newspaper.
Officers arrested Arturo Cejas III, a man in his 20s who lived at the home where the fireworks were seized, the Times reported, on suspicion of reckless or malicious possession of a destructive device.
The LAPD and ATF are now looking into who gave Cejas the fireworks and devices and what happened when authorities tried to safely detonate the devices to see “what we can do to avoid this type of circumstance from ever happening again.”
“Illegal fireworks pose a great danger and can cost lives. We will prosecute those who use or possess them to the fullest extent of the law,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric GarcettiEric GarcettiLA City Council votes to crack down on protests outside homes Bass says she is 'seriously considering' running for LA mayor Top official says LA fire department a 'very hostile work environment' for women MORE (D) wrote in a statement on Twitter.
I’ve directed the LAPD to conduct a full investigation into this incident, so we can better understand why this happened.— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) July 1, 2021
Illegal fireworks pose a great danger and can cost lives. We will prosecute those who use or possess them to the fullest extent of the law.
Local news photojournalist Paul Sanchez described the blast as “almost like someone had thrown a football-style block,” according to the Times. The explosion, however, did not knock him to the ground.