A Los Angeles Police Department bomb disposal truck failed at the one job it was designed to do when it was destroyed after police officers intentionally detonated a large load of illegal fireworks inside the truck, injuring 17 people in the neighborhood surrounding the truck. (Oops! —ED) The LAPD seemed to have been really let down by the truck, as they must have had a lot of faith in it to detonate its contents right there in the middle of a densely-populated neighborhood.
At a news conference following the event, Police Department Chief Michel Moore seemed baffled:
“This vessel should have been able to dispose of this material. Something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened and we do not know why.”
Here’s a TV news report on the event from KCAL 9, which shows the explosion happening:
Holy crap, right?
The South Los Angeles home that was the target of the raid was found to contain at least 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks. When they exploded in the clearly compromised confines of the iron detonation chamber of the bomb disposal truck, it blew out windows on surrounding homes and one laundromat, as well as completely destroying a nearby car and flipping it onto its side.
At an LAPD press conference, LAPD Lt. Raul Jovel actually noted that detonating the fireworks inside the truck—which they were counting on to contain the explosion—actually ended up making the outcome worse:
“You put a destructive device inside a closed container where it’s pressurized, when it blows up, that is a big punch. If some of these devices were to explode in the open, the impact would be a lot less because the blast would really go in all directions.”
It appears that proper procedures and protocols were followed, but there was a “total catastrophic failure of that containment vehicle.”
I mean, I guess if the job of a vehicle is to contain powerful explosions, that has to take a toll, over time. Is there even a way to test these vehicles in non-catastrophic ways?
In the end, nine LAPD officers were injured, one ATF officer, and about seven good people who we can assume did not actively choose to detonate the fireworks in a neighborhood, three of which sustained serious injuries.
I suppose this is a grim reminder that yes, fireworks are fun, but, please, be careful. And any of you out there with bomb disposal trucks, maybe do your detonating in sparsely populated areas, if you can?
UPDATE/CORRECTION: To clarify, it wasn’t the bulk of the fireworks themselves that caused the catastrophic explosion, but rather improvised explosives—40 soda can-sized ones, and 200 smaller ones.
According to the LA Times, less than 10 pounds of these explosions were detonated in the truck:
Less than 10 pounds of the devices were transferred into a semitruck, which Moore said was rated, with its outer containment shell, to handle 18 pounds. Officials established a 300-foot perimeter behind the vehicle and evacuated the north and south sides of 27th Street.
So, no, it’s not just 5,000 pounds of regular fireworks, as suggested before. Sorry.