Box Truck Explosion Shuts Down Boyle Heights Street; No Injuries Reported: Officials

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The rear of a box truck exploded in the middle of a street in Boyle Heights Friday evening. No injuries were reported, firefighters said.

Authorities are now working to determine what led to the explosion, which occurred shortly before 6 p.m. at 2720 E. Olympic Blvd.

It may have been caused by a propane tank that was being hauled on the back of the truck, according to Los Angeles Police Department Officer Drake Madison.

The L.A. Fire Department previously described the truck as a “semi trailer truck” and initially said it collided into a nearby gas station, then later determined that wasn’t the case.

After the blast, the truck’s driver parked it near the gas station, then he and the passenger exited to safety, fire officials said.

LAPD was interviewing the truck’s two occupants, both males. No arrests were made, according to Madison.

The men recycle scrap metal and had a load on the truck at the time, LAFD Battalion Chief Gregg Avery said.

Avery added that he didn’t “know anything about a propane tank.”

Jack Blizzard said he was sitting at home when a “massive bang, like a bomb, went off outside.”

“The windows just all started rattling, so I ran down to see if something had crashed into the house.”

Rico Romero said he had just parked nearby when he “heard this loud explosion — ‘boom’ — and I felt a whole vibration moving my car a little.”

From the sound and sight of it, Romero said he thought the outcome would be much worse.

“I thought someone had died or something like that,” he told KTLA. “I’m still kind of shaking right now.”

Aerial footage from Sky5 showed debris scattered across the roadway, where four cars were stopped, caught in the mess of wreckage. What appeared to be a large metallic sheet was on top of one of the cars. The destroyed box truck was parked on the side near the gas station.

Lulu Lomeli said her husband Jose was driving a white Jeep that could be seen among other vehicles in debris field. He had been right next to the truck that exploded, and pieces of it shot into his windshield, she said.

“He started crying. We were so scared,” Lomeli said. “We didn’t know what to expect, or if he was OK or not.”

The couple’s daughter stood next to her, still sobbing in distress over the situation though she knew her father would be alright.

A bomb squad and major crimes detectives were investigating the scene, but there was no indication the incident was connected to terrorism or a purposeful act, LAPD said.

“It doesn’t look like there’s a criminal element to this right now,” said Josh Rubenstein, a public information director for LAPD. “Any time there’s an explosion…we go for the worst-case scenario, then back down from there. As it appears right now, it looks like we’re backing down from all of those worst-case scenarios, which is really good.”

Investigators remained at the scene late Friday night. Though they had earlier said they expected the street would be cleared before midnight, it later appeared that would not be the case, and no official estimate was given.

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