On a Saturday night, Engine 9 was the first truck to answer the call about a fire in downtown LA. Firefighters entered the one-story commercial building and went up to the roof- a regular practice to put out a flame. But immediately they heard a rumbling, high-pitched noise- as if jet engines were rising up.
Within moments since the fire began, the warehouse exploded and a 30-foot-wide fireball compelled the people to retreat. The eruption shook the area and put several buildings in flames. About 230 firefighters ultimately arrived at the place to put out the inferno, which took nearly two hours.
The debris from the building that blew up involved the remnants of Engine 9: a burnt firetruck, melted helmets, and hollow fire extinguishers that firemen used to douse their flaming companions. Capt. Erik Scott, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department stated, “This quickly turned into an incident that we all dread,” He further added that it was “one of the worst incidents in recent history that we’ve been through.”
Remembering the night, Captain told The Washington Post, “We had firefighters driven off the roof, frantically scurrying down the aerial ladder to safety through a blowtorch.”
Twelve firemen were rushed to the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center with burns spanning from minor to severe. On Saturday night, LAFD Medical Director Marc Eckstein mentioned at a news conference outside the hospital that they are expected to survive. Four of the firemen taken to the burn unit. Whereas, eight of the firemen remained hospitalized.
Eckstein mentioned that the burns were primarily on the firefighters’ arms, but even said that some burns were seen on hands, ears and backs too. Two of the twelve firefighters were put on ventilators to treat chemical intake.
He further added, “Things could have been so much worse today,” At a news conference, Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas stated that the firemen knew to escape from the sound of pressure building.
Amidst the global pandemic, public authorities have restricted people from assembling at the scene, which is roped off within a three-block radius, Scott mentioned. Firemen are also confined from visiting their injured colleagues at the hospital.
Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti expressed appreciation towards the firefighters and the frontline hospital staff who have responded to the fire incident and virus outburst efficiently. He said, “We’ve been saying for the last two months, even more than usual, how much we appreciate our medical personnel and first responders,” “and, tonight, I’m doubly and deeply grateful for both of them.”