COMPTON (CBSLA) – A large fire erupted at a pallet yard in an industrial area of Compton early Friday morning, sparking transformer explosions, shutting down streets and forcing nearby evacuations.
It took about four hours for crews to bring the flames under control. A pallet yard, bus yard and mattress warehouse all burned, but no homes or apartments were damaged.
The blaze broke out in the area of the pallet business in the 500 block of East Weber Street sometime around 4:45 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. An adjacent bus yard then caught fire. Sky2 footage showed at least 10 buses, including school buses and luxury charter buses, ablaze.
About 100 L.A. County firefighters rushed to the scene to battle the huge flames as deputies warned nearby residents to stay out of the area, and surrounding businesses were evacuated.
Large explosions could be heard as multiple transformers and power lines sparked and popped. In one case, dangerous sparks could be seen emanating from a small structure with firefighters just feet away. Plumes of black smoke could be seen from as far away as the Hollywood Hills.
A firefighter suffered minor ankle injury, but there were no reports of any serious injuries.
However, a man who works for Reddaway, a trucking company located down the block from the pallet yard, told CBSLA that both he and his coworker were struck by power lines. They were not taken to hospitals.
“The power line hit me in the arm, and my partner also got hit, but he got hit in the back. He got a little bit more of an injury than I did,” Robert Vega told CBSLA.
Vega said he heard the transformer explode.
“I heard it from the main source there, and then it started coming down,” Vega said. “And then it sparked up there on top, and I looked and it hit me, and then I started running. And that’s when it hit me on the arm. And there was someone else there standing beside us and he ran for his life too.”
CBSLA photojournalist Dave Gonzales experienced a transformer explosion as well while covering the blaze, capturing dramatic video of the moment.
“It was a combination of sound and sparks, it was kind of like fireworks on the left side of me,” Gonzales said.
Firefighters also at one point had issues getting strong water pressure.
The fire knocked out electricity to about 50 Southern California Edison customers. By 7 a.m. it was fully restored, except for three customers, presumed to be the three burned businesses.
The cause and exact origin of the blaze are under investigation.