Los Angeles 2021 fireworks explosion
According to federal reports, LAPD badly miscalculated weight of fireworks before South L.A. explosion in 2021 Irfan Khan/Via Los Angeles Times

SEATTLE - The city of Los Angeles will have to pay more than $21 million to settle claims by residents of a neighborhood affected by the explosion of illegal fireworks that caused injuries to 17 people (mostly Latinos and Blacks) and displaced dozens after police bungled the detonation of a cache of illegal fireworks back in 2021.

But after three years of waiting, the City Council unanimously approved the payments this week, and the settlements will now go to Mayor Karen Bass for approval, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. The $21 million settlement awards a range from $100,000 to $2.8 million for the 17 people that claimed damages from the June 30, 2021 explosion.

Los Angeles police found an estimated 32,000 pounds of illegal commercial and homemade fireworks and other explosive materials at a home on East 27th Street a little over three years ago.

The LAPD bomb squad packed almost 40 pounds of the homemade fireworks into an armored containment vessel, but that vessel was rated for only 33 pounds according to a federal report. As the fireworks were considered too unstable to move, they were supposed to be detonated safely at the scene, but the vessel exploded and debris caused all sorts of damage around the South L.A. neighborhood.

The explosion damaged 10 officers and seven residents on top of the damage to homes, businesses and cars. Since the explosion, the city of Los Angeles has spent over $10.5 million on repairs, housing and other relief for the affected residents.

Video shows fireworks blast in South LA neighborhood - Via The Associated Press

"The victims of the 27th Street fireworks explosion have endured unimaginable pain and trauma that will last a lifetime," Councilmember Curren Price said in a statement. "Reaching these financial settlements were a crucial step toward their healing, rebuilding their lives, and finding stability and peace."

Ron Gochez, a community organizer and educator with the organization Unión del Barrio, who helped organize the victims of the explosion, said it is sad and difficult that up to three years after the tragedy, compensation will be given to them to repair their homes.

"Most of the affected families are African American and Latino. Some are homeowners and others are tenants; and we don't know when the money will start being distributed, how it will be given, and how much each affected person will receive."

Police responded to a tip on June 30 of 2021 and confiscated about 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of commercial-grade fireworks at the 27th Street location. Authorities said they found them on a patio in cartons stacked up to 10 feet high. Fireworks are illegal to sell or possess in Los Angeles and in unincorporated areas of the county.

According to federal reports, the bomb squad technicians underestimated the wight of the explosive material and ignored the warnings of a team member who said the explosives needed to be broken into smaller loads. Arturo Ceja III was found guilty to one count of transporting explosives without a license and was sentences to five months in federal prison.

In a statement released by the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Fire Department urged residents to "Think About Your Neighbor" and instead seek public firework shows to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. They also said that LAFD responded to more emergency incidents than the daily average around the holiday last year.

If caught in possession of or handling illegal fireworks, individuals may face significant fines and criminal prosecution.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.