SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It’s been two days since a botched detonation of illegal fireworks ended in an explosion that ripped a Los Angeles Police Department bomb truck apart and injured 17 people in South Los Angeles, but investigators said they still did not know what went wrong.
“Keep in mind, it takes a long time to do a scene like this methodically and exactly,” Michael Hoffman, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special officer in charge, said. “So we are going to be working throughout the weekend, through the holiday and into early next week. Beyond that, I do not have any timeline as to when we are going to be totally complete with this investigation and with this scene.”
On Friday, authorities said they recovered the 500-pound metal lid from that bomb truck that landed about three blocks away in someone’s yard after damaging the roof of that home and a tree.
“That item has been towed to the scene here for total analysis,” Hoffman said.
When asked about inspection records for the containment vehicle and what it meant that the lid was blasted off with such force, LAPD Lt. Raul Jovel said those inquiries were “premature at this point.”
“Those are details of this investigation that the department will certainly need to address,” he said. “Once again, this investigation will be completely reviewed. I think it’s important for us to remember that this is still ongoing.”
Also ongoing was the displacement of families. A member of the Martinez family captured the terrifying Wednesday evening explosion on cellphone video.
The family, unable to return home, has been staying at a Red Cross shelter set up at the Fred Roberts Recreation Center.
“I’m just frustrated, because they could have thought this through about the fireworks,” Jovana Martinez said.
And they’re not the only ones. Frustrated neighbors have been documenting the damage caused by the explosion that Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore called “a total catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle.”
“Our house was destroyed, and there’s some valuable things inside that’s hard to recover,” Martinez said. “It’s going to take a while to get that back.”
The blast also damaged the ceiling of a furniture store, which has been tough to get to for customers.
“No customers come in, the day is more longer,” Veronica Padilla, who works at Crystal Furniture and Appliances, said. “We’re waiting to know when it’s going to be open so we can start having the customers come back.”
About 45 agents from the ATF have started processing the debris field, with hopes of being able to reopen streets at the far ends of the perimeter to let those who are able return to their homes as soon as possible.
“For the integrity of the investigation and the evidence, you have to leave it in place until you’re ready to process that piece of evidence,” Ginger Colbrun, of the ATF, said.
But for the Martinez family, they have now had to move to a second shelter. Making the situation even tougher is that Martinez’s brother has autism and her dad has Type 2 diabetes.
“He has later upcoming surgeries, and we don’t know what to do because he can’t find somewhere to rest,” she said.