An explosion in downtown Los Angeles has injured 11 firefighters, with scores more sent to put out the blaze in a factory that produces cannabis oil.
Captain Erik Scott of the Los Angeles fire department said “one significant explosion” shook the neighborhood around 6.30pm on Saturday and as first responders arrived they saw firefighters emerge from the building with burns and other injuries. Some of their uniforms were on fire, according to an article posted on theguardian.com.
Four firefighters were taken to a burns intensive care unit, two were put on ventilators due to signs of swelling airways and the other five who were hospitalized suffering a range of burns. The two firefighters on ventilators appeared to have inhaled superheated gases but as of around 10pm local time it seemed none of the injuries were life-threatening, said the fire department’s medical director, Marc Eckstein.
Firefighters were initially called to 327 East Boyd Street in the city’s Toy District for a report of a fire at a one-storey commercial building, the article states.
The LA fire department issued a “mayday” call, which means a firefighter is missing, down or trapped, and characterised the blaze as a “major emergency” with more than 230 firefighters responding. The fire spread to several nearby buildings but by 7.15pm appeared largely under control.
When the firefighters first entered the building before the explosion they saw “light to moderate smoke”, but also noticed that the pressure and heat was increasing inside, said fire chief Ralph M Terrazas: “Things didn’t seem right.” The firefighters moved to evacuate at this point and as they were starting to exit, the “explosion or flash” occurred, prompting the mayday call, he said. Some of their coats caught fire, the article states.
Scott described the business as a maker of “butane honey oil.” Butane is a flammable gas. Making the oil involves extracting the high-inducing chemical THC from cannabis plants to create a highly potent concentrate also known as hash oil. The oil is used in vape pens, edibles, waxes and other products.