South LA fireworks blast: Evacuated residents, businesses will likely be allowed to return this week

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Just over a week after a massive explosion of illegal fireworks rocked a South Los Angeles neighborhood, Mayor Eric Garcetti said evacuated residents and businesses will likely be allowed to return sometime within the next few days.

The blast happened June 30 as homemade fireworks were being destroyed by a Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad, leaving a trail of destruction, injuries and questions in its wake.

The scene near 27th and San Pedro streets remained active with a heavy law-enforcement presence on Thursday morning, and police were seen escorting some residents to their home so that they could gather some of their belongings.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released the scene back to the city on Thursday afternoon.

Kenia Prieto and her family were among the neighborhood's residents who had to evacuate. Prieto, a mother of three, is pregnant with her fourth child.

South LA fireworks explosion: Neighbors begin road to recovering from trauma
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Residents of a South Los Angeles neighborhood rocked by a fireworks explosion are just starting the long recovery process.


"I just thought about my child, you know what I mean, my unborn child," Prieto said in an interview.

After the LAPD asked Prieto's family to leave their home for an hour, they thought they had nothing to worry about when they returned. But the explosion from the LAPD detonation of the fireworks, which occurred on the street where the family lives, shattered windows and sent glass flying across Prieto's apartment.

"It wasn't an easy situation," Prieto said. "It's hard. We're basically homeless right now. The city has done some stuff for us, but I'm worried. Like, if I have no home to go to, I don't have resources to get a new apartment or a new place to live."

The affected area within the district of City Councilman Curren Price Jr., whose staff has brought in numerous city agencies to help the nearly 75 residents who were displaced.

"I believe there's a light at the end of the tunnel, as they say, but there's still going to be a process," said James Westbrooks, Price's chief of staff. "Even when we get people back into their homes, I think there's still that traumatic experience that we're going to continue to help folks -- as far as the ordeal that they've had to go through and the unexpectedness of the situation."

Seventeen people were injured in the blast, according to the LAPD. Twenty homes were evacuated, including the one where Miguel de Avila and his family live.

"We didn't know where to go, because we were all shook up," he said. "We didn't have no money because we just paid rent, we just paid all our bills. So we were really, really broke. So we just had to sleep on the other side of the school."

The family was later set up with a hotel room in which to spend the night. Miguel de Avila was able to check on their home Thursday.

"Obviously, first blame goes to somebody who had these illegal fireworks and these homemade fireworks," Garcetti said. "But for the family members that are affected, they don't care how it happened. We need to make sure we're taking care of them."
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