12 Los Angeles firefighters have been taken to the hospital for burn treatment after responding to a fire at a cannabis oil production facility near the downtown region of Los Angeles. The presence of highly flammable solvents at the scene caused a great explosion, described by many on scene as a “fireball”. The fire blazed so powerfully, it melted parts of the helmets of several firemen.
Major fire in Little Tokyo/downtown Los Angeles at San Pedro and Third. Dangerously close to Skid Row residents, senior and low income housing. Major smoke screen, ash is raining for blocks. pic.twitter.com/s4coh3xbgq— sean typos miura (@seanmiura) May 17, 2020
The fire broke out inside of a warehouse belonging to Smoke Tokes, a butane hash oil (BHO) distributor. Carbon dioxide and butane canisters were found on the premises and are responsible for the escalation of the blaze. The region where the fire broke out is referred to by authorities as “Bong Row” and is a well-known heart of the underground concentrate industry as well as the site of many smoke shops. This region has also been identified as the likely epicenter for the wave of contaminated vaporizer cartridges, which lead to a severe respiratory illness resulting in widespread hospitalizations and deaths.
Smoke Tokes is a supplier of BHO products for the Los Angeles area with “two locations with one of them being a cash and carry location and the other is our giant warehouse”. A similar fire occurred a block away in 2016 at a location (now formerly) owned by Smoke Tokes. The Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation has no record of a licensed business existing at the location of Saturday’s fire.
The fire happened dangerously close to LA’s infamous Skid Row, a low income neighborhood with a large homeless population. The community is currently in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and is being hit hard. Many services utilized by this community, including food pantries are overwhelmed and short suplied due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Downtown L.A. explosion was so intense it melted helmets of responding firefighters— Digital Surveillance (@dsmlacctv) May 18, 2020
An explosion in downtown Los Angeles forced firefighters to walk though “a fireball,” setting their coats ablaze and sending four crew members to an intensive care unit. pic.twitter.com/brAeQGudOS
Eight of the injured firefighters remained hospitalized in the days after the blast. Further investigation is now under way to determine the cause of the fire and the status of Smoke Tokes licensing.