Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michael Moore said Monday that bomb squad members “grossly miscalculated” the number of fireworks it detonated in a South Los Angeles neighborhood June 30 that caused 17 injuries and destroyed a police containment chamber.
Moore said that five members of the bomb squad unit were relieved of field duty and could face disciplinary action as the investigation moves forward.
According to the Associated Press, the blast took place June 30 while officers were disposing of “homemade” fireworks prior to the Fourth of July holiday.
Earlier in the day, the unit transported 3,000-5,000 lbs. of fireworks away from the neighborhood for detonation and destruction, but then found an additional amount in another home that were too “unstable” for transport, according to the LAPD.
According to the AP report, the bomb squad decided to use a containment unit on a tractor trailer in the neighborhood to detonate them.
After using X-rays, the squad loaded the fireworks into the unit, following department protocols, but the ensuing explosion ripped the unit apart and flipped cars parked along the street.
Ten of the 17 injured included nine LAPD officers and a federal agent.
The members on the scene estimated the weight of the fireworks at about 16.5 lbs., which the containment unit was designed to handle, but the investigation into the blast found the amount to be some 42 pounds, much more than the unit was certified for.
According to the story, officers did not use a scale when measuring the amount, which could have led to such a miscalculation.
Officers made a 300-foot boundary around the container and evacuated homes prior to the explosion, officials said in the story.
The incident is making the department re-evaluate its protocols and procedures for using the containment vessels, officials said in the story.
Fireworks are illegal in the city and neighborhood resident Arturo Cejas, 27, was arrested and charged on suspicion of possessing a destructive device, but could also face child endangerment charges, police said.
Police said at the time that the fireworks were labeled “made in China,” and were to be sold to others throughout the neighborhood during the holiday.
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