Explosion at Restaurant Near Hollywood and Highland Prompts Evacuations, Leaves Woman Injured

An investigation is underway after an explosion at a mixed-use building near the busy intersection of Hollywood and Highland Wednesday night left a woman injured and prompted the evacuation of some residents in Hollywood, authorities said.

An explosion at a restaurant in Hollywood prompted a massive response from fire and police on Dec. 20, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

An explosion at a restaurant in Hollywood prompted a massive response from fire and police on Dec. 20, 2017. (Credit: KTLA)

The explosion occurred about 7:31 p.m., in the first-floor restaurant at 1724 N. Highland Ave., according to a Los Angeles Fire Department alert. The eatery, Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, was not open at the time.

The restaurant sits beneath a six-story apartment building with 270 units, and the first floor of the residential part of the building was evacuated "in abundance of safety," LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart stated in the alert. Residents on all other floors were urged to shelter in place.

No fire was immediately reported, Stewart said.

A woman who was hit by flying glass sustained minor injuries, according to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. John Pinto. She was treated and released at the scene.

Preliminary reports indicated there was a possible natural gas explosion inside the restaurant, the cause of which was not immediately known, according to Stewart. The gas has been turned off amid the active investigation.

Arson investigators have taken control of the investigation as authorities try to determine the cause.

Firefighters were systematically checking the entire building -- including the subterranean garage -- for the presence of any gas. As of 8:36 p.m., none had been detected. It was not immediately clear when residents would be allowed to return to their units.

The blast occurred across the street from the Hollywood & Highland Center, a heavily trafficked and crowded area that is also a popular destination for tourists.  The center features shops and restaurants, as well as the Dolby Theatre, and is near the TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

One witness reported feeling shaking while eating at the California Pizza Kitchen at Hollywood & Highland.

"Explosion was super loud!" Twitter user @ActionSebastian tweeted, along with video showing what appeared to be shattered glass from a blown out window across the street.

Another witness told KTLA that a "boom" could be heard from two blocks away from the blast.

"It was so big it blew out both windows on both sides of the bottom floor, and it bust the whole front door open," said Joshua Eggleston.

After the explosion, Eggleston began to smell a faint gasoline odor, he said, adding there was a "gassy smoke" emitting from the restaurant.

Tinhorn Flats was closed indefinitely back in October by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for a number of reasons, including for vermin and uncleanliness, according to Eater Los Angeles. It has yet to reopen.

The area is expected to be closed for several hours overnight while investigators finish processing the scene, and to allow for cleanup.