LAFD Concludes Firefighters May Have Sparked Slauson Ave. Gas Explosion

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Sparks from a firefighter's saw may have ignited vapors from a leaking 9,000-gallon gasoline tanker that spread to a home and set off explosions in storm drains, injuring two people, a Los Angeles Fire Department investigation concluded today.

That was the determination by the LAFD's Arson/Counter-Terrorism Section, LAFD spokesman Peter Sanders said.

Firefighters responded to a call at 7:45 a.m. Sunday about the smell of gas in the air at 216 W. Slauson Ave. Arriving units determined the fuel appeared to be leaking from inside a gated and locked privately owned storage lot, Sanders said.

“It was determined that during the attempt to gain access to the locked facility, sparks from a firefighter's rotary saw may have caused fuel vapors to ignite,” Sanders said.

The tanker exploded into flames, forcing firefighters back and manhole cover was displaced when fumes in the storm drain ignited and created underground pressure, according to LAFD Capt. Cody Weireter.

Nearby structures were struck by flames, including a two-story single- family home that was damaged by fire and displaced a family, Weireter said.

Officials said one of the two victims suffered serious injuries, but they had no further information. There were no reported fatalities or firefighter injuries.

The blaze was extinguished in just under two hours by 72 firefighters.

The fuel type was initially reported to be natural gas, but was determined to be gasoline.

“An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the presence of a fuel tanker on the private property is ongoing and under the jurisdiction of the city's Watershed Protection Division and the Environmental Protection Agency,” Saunders said. “The LAFD is conducting a detailed After-Action Review of this incident to identify lessons learned.”

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