Ahead of the July 4 vacation, the LAPD clearance team responded to Block 700 East 27th Street after receiving an anonymous report that a resident was storing illegal fireworks in his backyard.
According to Moore, more than 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were found in the resident’s yard. Some of the fireworks were found to be “leaking materials,” which caused officers at the scene to consider them too dangerous to transport and prompted them to detonate them at the scene.
Bomb technicians estimated the explosives’ weight to be around 16.5 pounds, but when the ATF National Response Team investigated after the explosion, their total explosives net weight was just over 42 pounds, according to Moore.
The bomb disposal truck, called the Total Containment Vessel (TCV), was designed to hold a maximum capacity of 25 pounds, Moore said.
Moore said the demining truck had been used in 41 previous cases, with this incident being his third use this year. In all previous instances of its use, the truck had no documented malfunctions or issues, he said.
Prior to the detonation, three phases of evacuation took place and additional safety measures such as safety distances were implemented, according to Moore.
When authorities detonated the fireworks, a massive explosion took place that injured 17 people and damaged or destroyed 13 businesses, 22 residential properties and 37 vehicles.
Moore called the incident a “catastrophic failure.” ATF official Michael Hoffman said the quantity of explosives found in the resident’s backyard “probably could have destroyed the whole neighborhood.”
Five bomb squad members were “taken out of the field” in the blast, Moore said. He added that he “will hold people accountable for those who have not met our expectations.”
Additionally, the Bomb Squad Manual is currently under review and there will be a “top down and bottom up inspection of the LAPD Bomb Squad,” Moore added.
“We can and must do better,” he said.
According to Hoffman, the final investigation into the cause of the explosion will not be completed for 30 to 60 days.