Aerial video captured the abrupt moment when a cache of illegal fireworks seized in the Historic South-Central neighborhood of South L.A. exploded, ripping apart a Los Angeles Police Department vehicle and injuring 17 people on Wednesday evening
The massive blast shook the 700 block of East 27th Street around 7:30 p.m., after police had spent hours confiscating some 5,000 pounds of fireworks from a residence.
Some of the devices had been loaded into an armored container on a police tractor-trailer, where police had decided to detonate them “in a controlled manner,” according to LAPD Lt. Raul Jovel.
Instead, “we had catastrophic failure of one of our trucks,” he said.
Sky5 was over the scene when the explosion rocked the neighborhood. The helicopter’s camera captured the blast that caused the commercial grade-semi-truck to burst into flames, sending plumes of thick smoke over the neighborhood.
“That was not supposed to happen. That truck is destroyed,” reacted KTLA’s Colton von Pertz, who was reporting from the Sky5 at the time.
The force of the explosion also knocked a nearby vehicle over, damaged other cars and homes in the surrounding area, and injured at least 17 people.
The wounded included 10 LAPD officers, according to officials. An agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was also hurt, as were six civilians. Their injuries ranged from moderate to minor.
Some residents were also evacuated as police combed the neighborhood looking for any other possible hazards that may have been scattered in the area.
Police took 27-year-old Arturo Cejas into custody in connection with the incident, according to LAPD. He faces possible charges related to possession of a destructive device.
Meanwhile, investigators on Thursday were still trying to piece together what went wrong with the detonation.
“Something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened. And we don’t know why, but we intend to find out why,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said.