VALLEY GLEN (CBSLA) — Neighbors were slowing cleaning up their street after Los Angeles Fire Department crews responded late Sunday to a Valley Glen home when a large explosion rocked an entire neighborhood.
“I was just in my bedroom just organizing some stuff, and I felt a big explosion,” one man said. “I thought it was an earthquake in the beginning, but then I said it didn’t, like, rattle for so long.”READ MORE: USC Annenberg, ViacomCBS Announce New Scholarship To Promote Diversity In Newsrooms
According to LAFD, the single-family home in the 12700 block of W. Archwood Street suffered severe damage after a large explosion, though there was no active fire when crews arrived.
Fire crews said there was a smell of gas in the air upon arrival. A broken gas line was found, but it was not clear if a leak caused the explosion, or if the explosion damaged the gas line. However, evidence of a marijuana grow was found at the home, authorities said.
“That explosion does not appear to be caused by that gas leak, the gas leak was subsequent to the actual explosion,” Capt. Erik Scott, LAFD public information officer, said Monday afternoon. “The explosion does not appear to have been caused by a THC extraction lab.”
Though authorities said they were still investigating whether the marijuana grow could have possibly caused the explosion.
Two men were taken to a local hospital, a 59-year-old man with critical burn injuries and a 46-year-old man with non-life threatening injuries. The second man was found in shoulder-deep debris after firefighters heard a tapping sound, fire officials said. Crews had to use a chain saw to remove the debris in order to extricate the man, who was alert and talking to firefighters.
Another man sustained minor injuries, but declined to go to the hospital. A 65-year-old woman and three children were all uninjured, partly in thanks to their neighbor, Guy Philippe, who climbed through the debris and ignored the smell of gas in order to get the children out.
“I didn’t want anything to happen to the kids,” Philippe said. “I made a decision last night, that if anything happened to me, then so be it.”
Once they were safe, he went back in to search for the woman, who he said had a “major structure” on top of her.READ MORE: Westside Residents Unhappy With Proposed Temporary Homeless Housing In City Parks and Beach Parking Lots
“I did what anybody else would have done,” he said.
And that kindness was rewarded early Monday evening when neighbor Cristina Molina delivered a gift card and a note of thanks for his heroic effort.
“This guy had no regard for his own life, he just cared about saving other human beings,” she said. “And we need more of him in this world.”
A woman who lived in a neighboring home was evaluated for injuries, but was not taken to the hospital.
An explosion has destroyed a house in #ValleyGlen and sent debris flying through the neighborhood. @LAFD urban search and rescue is on scene and firefighters searching through the wreckage. One person in critical condition and a second pulled from debris. @CBSLA @LAFDtalk pic.twitter.com/SJeXycBMUG
— John Schreiber (@johnschreiber) April 12, 2021
The home has been red tagged and residents of 13 neighboring homes were asked to evacuate. Seven homes in the area sustained damage from debris, but were not deemed unsafe for occupancy, LAFD said.MORE NEWS: Additional COVID Vaccination Site To Open Friday At Moreno Valley Mall In Former Sears Building
Firefighters said there was no fire hazard and the gas leak had been secured. LAFD said crews were remaining on the scene to investigate the cause of the explosion.