South LA explosion: Evacuees return home to recover belongings after fireworks blast

Eric Resendiz Image
Friday, July 2, 2021
South LA explosion evacuees return home to recover belongings
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After a powerful explosion rocked a South L.A. neighborhood and injured 17 people, some evacuees were allowed to go back home to pick up essentials.

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A planned detonation of illegal fireworks went wrong on Wednesday in South Los Angeles after an explosion occurred inside a police bomb squad truck.

"We were right there in front when everything happened. Once the explosion happened we all went in," said Jose Armando Cruz, who works at his family's business near the site of the incident. "It felt like a bomb, like when they drop a nuke or something."

Juana Oceguera said she lives a few homes away from where the explosion happened.

"At that moment I thought about my kids. Because I heard how the broken glass was falling," Oceguera said in Spanish. "But in reality, my worry was my children."

RELATED: South LA fireworks explosion occurred after 'catastrophic failure' during planned detonation

What was supposed to be a safe operation to destroy a cache of illegal fireworks turned into a "total, catastrophic failure" of a LAPD bomb squad vehicle, leading to a huge explosion in South L.A., authorities say.

Oceguera said after the detonation, she rushed her son to the hospital because he was in pain. However, Oceguera's son is OK now.

"It's very difficult because we had to leave without medication. My son has autism and he needs medication every day," Oceguera said.

Families like Oceguera went to the hospital and returned on Thursday to try to get into their homes. Authorities escorted residents to get their belongings like medication, pets and other critical items. Many of the homes were left with shattered glass.

"We saw the homes. The beds were flipped upside down. All of the walls are broken," said Oceguera.

Cruz said they own an embroidery business inside the evacuated area and needed to go inside to grab orders they need to deliver because they need the money.

WATCH: South LA fireworks explosion: Students of nearby school react to blast

In the wake of a massive explosion during a planned detonation of illegal fireworks in South L.A., some students of a nearby elementary school say they're on edge.

"We are losing a lot of money. And then rent is supposed to be due today and it's pretty expensive. And now all of this, we are losing more money," said Cruz.

Unfortunately, authorities did not allow the Cruz family to enter their business.

L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price, who represents Council District 9 where the explosion happened, said residents could call his district office to help them get the resources they need.

The Oceguera family is staying at the American Red Cross disaster relief shelter at Trinity Park.

Price's office said about 20 homes were evacuated. His district office phone number is (323) 846-2651.

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