LOS ANGELES (CNS) - More than 300 criminal charges have been filed against the owners and operators of four downtown Los Angeles buildings and three businesses for alleged fire code and safety violations following a massive fire and explosion in May that injured a dozen firefighters, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today.
“The fire and explosion that ripped through the Boyd Street property caused our firefighters great suffering -- and came perilously close to costing their lives. We'll do everything we can to hold the owners and operators of buildings and businesses responsible for complying with our fire and safety codes,'' the city attorney said in a written statement. “The public is counting on us to protect them from a potential catastrophe.''
Among those facing charges is Steve Sungho Lee, 56, who owns the building at 327 Boyd St., where the May 16 fire allegedly started, according to the City Attorney's Office.
Lee -- who is set to be arraigned Nov. 19 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom -- could face up to 68 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted as charged, officials said.
The businesses Smoke Tokes, Green Buddha and Bio Hazard, which are housed in the building, are also among those charged.
The building and three other properties owned by Lee were allegedly found to have illegal storage of hazardous materials, according to the City Attorney's Office.
The misdemeanor charges stem from alleged violations of state law and the city's Municipal Code, along with failure to comply with orders for alleged fire code and building code violations, according to the City Attorney's Office.
“The Boyd Street Fire was a devastating incident that could have easily turned into an epic tragedy for the LAFD,'' Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said in the statement. “Thanks to the work of our arson investigators, the Fire Prevention Bureau, the LAPD and the City Attorney's Office, we are one step closer to holding accountable the individuals who may have contributed to the circumstances that precipitated this fire and, hopefully, be able to prevent similar incidents in the future.''
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