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Huge Fire Breaks Out On The Edge Of Downtown LA

Firefighters respond to an explosion in downtown Los Angeles that has injured multiple firefighters and caused a fire that spread to several buildings, Saturday, May 16, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Stefanie Dazio)
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UPDATE: Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas led a 9:30 press conference to provide an update following a fire and explosion that occurred around 6:20 p.m. at 327 E. Boyd St., a one-story commercial building in downtown L.A. on the edge of Little Tokyo.

Garcetti said 11 firefighters are being treated at County-USC Hospital. LAFD medical director Dr. Marc Eckstein said four are being treated in the hospital's intensive care burn unit. Three suffered critical but not life threatening injuries. Two of them are on ventilators. A fourth has what were termed "serious" injuries. Many firefighters suffered chemical smoke inhilation.

LAFD public information officer Erick Scott said earlier that a business called Smoke Tokes Warehouse Distributor is located at that location, adding that the business is a supplier for manufacturers of butane honey oil. The company also operates a retail store around the corner at 309 San Pedro St.

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Chief Terrazas said the cause of the fire and explosion is under investigation, but he confirmed that there was butane in the building. Butane, which is used to create marijuna extract, can be highly flammable. Terrazas said the department is also investigting whether a previous fire had been reported at that site.

LAFD spokesman Scott said after firefighters entered the building, there was a "significant" explosion.

In an Instagram post, a downtown resident referred to that area as "Bong Row" because of the concentration of smoke shops. That area between Little Tokyo and Skid Row is a mix of commercial businesses and buildings that have been converted into lofts and apartments. Restaurants and breweries have also opened in the rapidly changing neighborhood.

The first firefighters on the scene were reportedly from Station 9, which serves the Skid Row area. The fire was extinguished at 8:08 p.m.

Here's some more info from LAFD's incident report:

"Firefighters found smoke coming from a one-story commercial building and engaged in an aggressive fire attack in the offensive mode. Firefighters made entry to chase the seat of the fire, when a significant explosion occured. A MAYDAY was put out over the radio and multiple firefighters were found with significant injuries. Additional units were added, making it a Major Emergency incident. A medical branch was created to attend to injured firefighters, while other crews continued attacking the fire from a defensive posture. Knockdown was achieved almost two hours after the first alarm. Tragically, 11 firefighters with burn and other injuries (severity not confirmed). The occupancy was doing business as Smoke Tokes Wholesale Distributor, reportedly a supplier for those who make butane honey oil. The cause is of great concern to us and is under active investigation.

The smoke and flames were fully put out shortly after 8 p.m. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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