Explosion rocks Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro

Image 1 of 2

A semi-trailer truck hauling a shipping container exploded in San Pedro Monday morning. Despite some damage to a nearby building, authorities said no one was hurt.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the Port of Los Angeles near the 600 block of Harbor Boulevard just before 10 a.m.

"I was actually watching the news having a cup of coffee, and then I heard this massive explosion," said John Neal. He lives in the Samoan Sea Apartments across from the port and filmed cell phone video of the burning big rig. "It was like a big, massive explosion, percussion-like."

The aerial view from SkyFox showed the charred wreckage and the cab of the truck peeled back like a tin can.

The explosion was so big, residents three miles away, like David Nicholson, say they felt it. "We heard a huge boom," Nicholson said. "[Our] windows rattled."

Across from the port, at least five windows at the Samoan Sea Apartments not only rattled but shattered. A maintenance worker spent the morning cleaning up shards of glass.

Firefighters say no one in the apartments was hurt, and miraculously, neither was the man driving that big rig. Authorities say he was checked out by paramedics but declined to be taken to the hospital.

"We did utilize our monitoring devices to test the ambient air," said LAFD Capt. Erik Scott. "We ensured that there was no hazard."

Capt. Scott said the shipping container was carrying four vehicles headed to export. It exploded just below the Vincent Thomas Bridge outside the container terminal, which a Port of Los Angeles spokesman said was briefly evacuated.

Officially port police are calling it an industrial accident but brought in outside help just in case.

"We do have the bomb squad; we do have the hazmat team behind us," said Port Police Captain Daniel Cobos, "and we're going to hopefully be able to determine what caused this explosion

Monday afternoon, the LAFD determined the explosion was an accident caused by fuel and air mixing in the shipping container the semi was carrying. When the big rig hit a speed bump, investigators believe the jolt ignited vapor inside the closed container causing that explosion.