On Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 6:51 AM, 16 Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, 11 LAFD Rescue Ambulances, 3 Arson Units, 1 Urban Search and Rescue Unit, 1 Rehab Unit, 2 Hazardous Materials Teams, 3 EMS Battalion Captains, 3 Battalion Chief Officer Command Teams, 1 Division Chief Officer Command Team, 2 bull dozers, LAPD, So Cal gas company, dwp, DOT, building & safety, LA County Health Services, Cal Osha, along with other agencies, all under the direction of Assistant Chief Daniel McCarthy responded to a MAJOR EMERGENCY at 936 East 59th Street in South Los Angeles.
Firefighters arrived to find a 100’ X 100’ one-story commercial building that sustained a massive explosion, which shook windows of nearby businesses. The front one-third of the building and roof collapsed in addition to being well involved in flames. One victim was thrown into the street from the explosion and pinned under a vehicle. Another victim was found in Cardiac Arrest after being electrocuted from power lines that were down. Emergency Traffic was declared over the radio by the Incident Commander to alert all on scene of the electrical hazard.

Firefighters jumped into action, and made a quick aggressive entry into the collapsing building. They endangered their lives to perform a rapid search of this large welding business, in hopes to rescue anyone possibly trapped. No one was immediately found, and due to the structure tumbling down around them, the Firefighters had to exit and battle the blaze defensively. Over 100 Firefighters were able to successfully knockdown the flames in just 25 minutes.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team, was then able to eliminate hazards and shore up beams, allowing a safer environment to perform a detailed and thorough search. K9 units were utilized to locate anyone possibly trapped under the rubble, however there were no hits and no additional victims were found.

Sadly one adult male deceased from electrocution. A second adult male suffered critical burns and was in the ICU at a California hospital awaiting a transfer to LA County USC hospital.

The cause of the explosion was due to illegal tampering with the gas meter. This enclosed structure was likely filling with natural gas, and when an ignition source sparked it, the powerful and deadly explosion occurred. Monetary loss from the explosion is estimated at $250,000 ($175,000 structure & $75,000 contents).

Submitted by Erik Scott, Spokesman Los Angeles Fire Department
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