Official: 2 dead in Los Angeles explosion

Gas leak thought to be the cause. Dogs sent into building wreckage to look for possible third man find nothing


Thomas Watkins
July 30, 2010 10:30PM (UTC)

A fire official says a second man has died after an apparent gas leak explosion shattered an industrial building in South Los Angeles.

Fire Capt. Stephen Ruda says one man died when hurled from the building by the 6:15 a.m. blast Friday, and a second man died at a hospital after he was hit with 34,500 volts from a downed power line whilr trying to move his truck away from the wreckage.

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Ruda says dogs were sent in to search the building after reports that a third person might be trapped, but they found nothing. Ruda says heavy equipment will now move debris as the search continues.

The business manufactured security doors and fences. Ruda says leaking natural gas or some industrial gas may have collected in the building overnight.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A suspected natural gas explosion Friday at an industrial plastic-coating shop collapsed part of the building and hurled two workers into the street, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition, fire officials said.

The two-story wooden building in South Los Angeles was shaken by the violent explosion about 6:15 a.m. that turned the front of the structure into matchsticks. The building caught fire and 100 firefighters doused the blaze in about 25 minutes, fire spokesman Erik Scott said.

One of the workers thrown into the street was wedged under a car and had to be freed by firefighters.

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There were unconfirmed reports that another person might be trapped in the building, Scott said.

Daniel Ibarra, who works at the building, said he was taking out the trash when the blast hit. The 27-year-old man appeared in shock as he leaned against a wall with a bruised leg surveying the damage.

"I was very lucky," said Ibarra, whose thick black hair was singed on top.

Jonathan Apol, 20, a welder who works in a building next door, said he was putting on his work clothes when he heard the explosion.

"I thought it was like an earthquake or something," he said.

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He heard a bang followed by two more a few seconds later. He went outside and saw two dazed men standing in front of a burning building.

Firefighters were making sure the wreckage was safe before a rescue team was brought in with dogs to search.

"They are shoring up any portions of the building that may be unsecured, ensuring that the beams aren't going to fall further," Scott said.

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Natural gas apparently sparked the blast but the building also contained flammable oxygen and acetylene, he said.

(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. Updates with 2nd fatality. Corrects reference to man working across the street because fire officials now say they don't know where he worked. AP Video.)


Thomas Watkins

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