Guy Philippe knew several children lived in the home in the 12700 block of West Archwood Street and quickly ran over barefoot to help them.
Philippe bolted into the one-story, single-family home around 9:30 p.m. Sunday and rescued all three by himself before first responders could arrive. He said the smell of natural gas was thick.
"I didn't want anything to happen to the kids. I made a decision last night that if anything happened to me then so be it," Philippe told Eyewitness News while a large nail was still lodged into one of his heels. "They were disoriented and scared. They didn't know what was happening. And I made a decision that, you know what, if I don't do something they're gonna die."
There were seven people home at the time, but only two adults sustained significant injuries.
A man around 59 years old was brought to a local hospital with critical burn injuries. A second man, around 46 years old, was pulled from a pile of shoulder-deep debris and was talking to firefighters at the scene. He was then transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Another man suffered minor injuries and declined to go to the hospital. A woman, around 65 years old, was not injured.
The roof of the home was found on a lawn two doors down and the blast leveled the garage.
A neighbor's surveillance camera captured the blast from the explosion, which residents described as a bomb going off. The video shows the blast briefly lighting up the street Sunday night and rocking the area, causing car alarms to sound.
Neighbor Jesse Castro says the frightening blast caused a panic for residents.
"I was just sitting there watching T.V., my wife was outside on the patio, and it all happened so fast," he said. "It felt like a -- first I thought it was an earthquake, but then all my windows in my house blew out. I looked outside, I heard people screaming. I told everybody, 'You better get away from the house, but there were people trying to get the other people inside the house. People were crying, their dogs were running around the neighborhood. I mean, it was pandemonium."
Debris still covered many parts of the street Monday morning as authorities continued to investigate the cause of the explosion. Firefighters on Monday were assisting police in determining the cause.
"There was some evidence of marijuana being grown and that is part of the active investigation," said Capt. Erik Scott with the Los Angeles County Fire Department
The fire department says firefighters detected gas in the air and were able to secure the leak. The gas company also provided assistance.
A witness who was driving by the area recalled hearing the explosion.
"We were in the car a few streets down and we just heard this big, loud explosion," she said. "I thought it was a firework or a gun shot."
She drove closer and came upon a stunning scene.
"We saw the whole ceiling blew off and it smelled like gas," she said. "I figured it was a gas leak. The firefighters got here quickly."