ONTARIO (CBSLA) – Dozens of families remained displaced Friday while bomb technicians continue to search for unexploded fireworks following Tuesday’s massive explosion which killed two men and showered 80 surrounding properties with debris in an Ontario neighborhood.
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About two-dozen bomb technicians from several federal and local agencies are continuing to canvass the area for unexploded ordnance. The fireworks are too volatile to remove, so since Wednesday, the bomb squads have been filling dumpsters with fireworks and setting them off at the property where the initial explosion occurred.
On Friday, bomb technicians were set to safely detonate enough fireworks to fill 80 containers, with each container able to hold 27 gallons each, authorities said.
By 5 p.m., the mandatory evacuation order was lifted for much of the area, officials said during a news conference.
Effective March 19 at 5 PM, the mandatory evacuation order has been lifted for the following green zones listed in the map. For more information, visit https://t.co/RkEKHRXDac.
Affected residents may contact the City of Ontario Public Information Hotline at (909) 395-2970. pic.twitter.com/fAqgHkjYRx
— City of Ontario (@CityofOntario) March 20, 2021
Beginning at around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and lasting several hours, multiple explosions occurred at a property at San Antonio Avenue and Maple Street, sending terrified neighbors scrambling for safety. The initial explosion had the magnitude of a bomb blast, with a number of other explosions following.
Alex Paez, 38, and his 20-year-old cousin Cesar Paez were both killed in the blasts. Their bodies were found on the property. Three others were hurt.READ MORE: Bill Clinton Released From UCI Medical Center After 5 Nights
Two homes on the property were destroyed, the main home and a back house. A dog was also found dead on the property, while two horses were rescued. Several surrounding homes also sustained damage, such as blown out windows and doors.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the home whether the explosion occurred was a so-called “trap house,” a place where illegal fireworks are sold. Investigators are unsure about whether the fireworks were being made at or sold from the home, only that there was a very large supply.
Since Tuesday, an evacuation order has been in place for dozens of residents who live in the area bordered by West Francis Street and West Maple Avenue, and between Fern Avenue and San Antonio Avenue.
“After we’ve cleared the area of any unexploded ordnance, fireworks, any dangerous munitions, we’re gonna start the investigation part of this incident,” Ontario Fire Department Chief Ray Gayk said Wednesday.MORE NEWS: `Solidarity' Cited In New Deal For 40k Behind-the-Scenes Film & TV Workers
The Red Cross Thursday said it is assisting 137 people who live within the evacuation area with temporary housing. Residents are being provided with hotel vouchers. Anyone who needs assistance should call 909-395-2970 or visit the De Anza Community Center.