Los Angeles firefighters injured in vehicle fire explosion

February 16, 2024
LAFD Los Angeles Fire Department

Explosion at Los Angeles truck fire injures nine firefighters

The Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) faced a critical situation early on February 15, 2024, when responding to a semi truck fire in the Wilmington area, leading to severe injuries among its members.

At approximately 6:58 AM, the first responders arrived at the 1100 block of North Alameda Street to tackle a blaze involving a semi truck without its trailer.

The situation escalated when, six minutes into the operation, an explosion occurred, injuring nine firefighters.

The incident turns disastrous

Firefighting crews were combating the flames of a clean-air Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered truck, which had two 100-gallon tanks under high pressure.

Despite nearing successful extinguishment, a catastrophic explosion took place, propelling some firefighters dozens of feet away and causing immediate injuries.

The severity of the event prompted a “Mayday” distress call, indicating “firefighters down.” The first ambulance on the scene swiftly transported the three most critically injured to a local trauma center, followed by additional ambulances that carried the rest of the injured firefighters, two of whom were reported in “critical condition.”

Response and aftermath

In the wake of the explosion, over 150 LAFD personnel were mobilized to manage the crisis, including Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Specialists.

The area surrounding the incident was cordoned off, extending the exclusion zone to 500 feet to prevent further injuries.

The LAFD also deployed its firefighting robot, “Thermite RS3,” to safely cool the remaining fuel cylinder, demonstrating the department’s innovative approach to managing hazardous situations.

Despite the tragic injuries sustained by the firefighters, the LAFD expressed gratitude for the community’s support and highlighted the incident as a stark reminder of the dangers firefighters face.

The department’s preparedness and protective gear were credited with preventing even more severe outcomes.

FSJA Comment

This incident underscores the inherent risks associated with firefighting, particularly when dealing with highly pressurized and flammable materials like CNG.

The quick and coordinated response of the LAFD, coupled with the use of advanced technology such as the Thermite RS3 firefighting robot, illustrates the critical importance of preparedness and innovation in emergency response operations.

It also highlights the bravery and commitment of firefighters who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the community.

As investigations continue, the focus will likely turn to safety protocols and measures to prevent similar incidents, ensuring the well-being of both first responders and the public.

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