BOOM: 17 injured after 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks causes explosion

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A planned detonation of seized illegal fireworks ended in an explosion in South Los Angeles, injuring 17 people and damaging nearby homes.

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The injury count is currently at 17, with the Los Angeles Fire Department reporting nine officers with the Los Angeles Police Department, one Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officer, and six civilians injured and were taken to local hospitals.

Officers had seized over 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks, some of which were stored in the LAPD’s Bomb Squad trailer “as a precautionary measure,” said the LAPD. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

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Reporters on the scene, however, heard “Fire in the hole” yelled multiple times before explosion officers moved them away from the truck, according to CBSLA.

Neighbors said it felt like “a really hard earthquake.”

Earlier in the day, the LAPD received a tip that there were illegal fireworks being stashed at a home. Officers arrived and found about 5,000 pounds of “commercial-grade fireworks,” said Police Chief Michel Moore, as well as “improvised explosive devices.”

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The bomb squad was brought in to remove the it all and, according to Moore, the containment vessel should have been able to safely dispose of the devices.

That, however, wasn’t the case, and when the detonation happened around 7:40 p.m., Moore said a “catastrophic” failure led to the explosion.

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In a press conference early Thursday morning, Moore said officers followed the necessary protocols but “something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened, and we don’t know why, but we intend to find out why.”

Arturo Cejas, 27, was taken into custody on suspicion of possession of destructive devices.

A 10-year-old child, identified as Cejas’ brother, was taken into protective custody.

The Department of Children and Family Services are investigating, according to Moore.

Cejas is being held on $500,000 bail.

The investigation into the explosion is ongoing.

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