LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – There are new questions about a building in downtown Los Angeles that burst into flames last weekend in a fire that injured a dozen firefighters.
Investigative reporter David Goldstein discovered that building had never been inspected and Thursday he asked the fire chief about what is going to have to change.
The fire department will now be starting citywide inspections into all of the shops, but as we reported earlier this week, this one was never inspected and the fire chief doesn’t know why.
“I don’t want to speculate… I’ll tell you that is going to be looked at during our investigation,” said LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas.
A dozen firefighters were injured when carbon dioxide and butane canisters exploded.
“When I saw the video I was amazed they lived,” Terrazas said.
Federal and state investigators are on the scene trying to determine what happened. They’ve identified the business as Smoke Tokes.
Their website shows they sell butane canisters that are commonly used in illegal marijuana operations. The building should have had a diamond placard warning firefighters what’s inside but didn’t because we found it was never inspected.
When asked if that was surprising, Terrazas said, “I can see it’s such a tiny building it may have been overlooked.”
The chief has now ordered inspections of all similar smoke shops.
We also couldn’t find any business license for Smoke Tokes. But we did find campaign contributions: in 2014 Smoke Tokes contributed $700 to the campaign of City Councilman Jose Huizar, and in 2015 the company gave another $700 to Councilman David Ryu.
At the time, $700 was the maximum amount allowed by law.
The offices of both councilmen say they had no relationship with the smoke shop.
Political watchdog Jack Humphreville says contributions are sometimes made by companies to get a voice inside City Hall.
“It buys you access,” he said. “Huizar saying he doesn’t know who it is, that’s baloney. And if he doesn’t know who it is then he should have known who it is.”
The owners of Smoke Tokes couldn’t be reached for comment.
The chief says the increased inspections will begin after this investigation is completed.