Fire captain lost use of hands after DTLA smoke shop explosion, chief says; LAFD to inspect similar businesses

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On the heels of a downtown Los Angeles warehouse explosion that left 12 firefighters injured over the weekend, inspections at similar businesses will soon be underway to help keep firefighters aware of increased danger.

On Thursday Chief Ralph Terrazas told KTLA once the L.A. Fire Department completes its investigation into the fiery explosion at Smoke Tokes, a distributor and wholesaler of smoking and vaping products, that happened around 6:30 p.m. Saturday near San Pedro and Third streets, inspections will begin to identify similar businesses that may be storing volatile materials that could increase the threat to responding firefighters.

Terrazas said LAFD personnel also plan to work to ensure businesses of a similar nature display a diamond placard that serve as a warning to firefighters.

“If they arrive on scene of a building of this type they will have an indicator of the type of contents that would exist in the building,” Terrazas said. “That gives them another clue as to the danger, as to the threat, to them as they proceed on the roof or inside.”

Firefighters who responded to Saturday’s commercial fire were also met with an explosion.

The burn injuries the firefighters suffered ranged from critical to minor. On Wednesday an LAFD update reported one firefighter remained hospitalized at L.A. County USC Medical Center, while other firefighters were receiving specialized care at West Hills Hospital Grossman Burn Center.

Capt. Victor Aguirre, a father of two, was one the most severely injured in the explosive fire, according to Terrazas. The father of two suffered third-degree burns and tragically has lost the use of both of his hands.

“I have to say I am so impressed with Capt. Aguirre,” Terrazas told KTLA. “He was the last one off the roof. He made sure all of his firefighters were down before he exited the roof.”

GoFundMe page has been established to help Aguirre, his wife and two children during the recovery process. Aguirre is said to have a long recovery ahead, and it’s unknown if he will ever be able to return to duty.

The Fire Department said the explosion triggered a “mayday” call and more than 230 firefighters worked on extinguishing the blaze for almost two hours. Crews found small butane canisters inside and outside the one-story warehouse after the fire, but the cause remains under investigation.

Donations for the other firefighters injured in the explosion are also being collected through the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Fire Foundation.

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