LOS ANGELES - "They did what?" asked one incredulous resident in Spanish, in the neighborhood rocked by a fireworks explosion last month.
We had just explained that Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore has all but pointed to human error for the blast that injured 17 people and destroyed homes off 27th street in South LA.
Bomb squad personnel, attempting to safely detonate confiscated fireworks they deemed too dangerous to transport away from the area, decided to detonate them in a specialized container meant to handle as much as 25lbs of explosives.
Doing a visual assessment, they thought they were putting about 16 pounds of material in the container.
ATF investigators, using samples from the debris field after the explosion and actually weighing them on scales, estimated that the amount in the container was more like – 42 lbs.
That is almost three times the weight the bomb squad technicians thought they were putting in there, and why the container would have exploded.
While this is preliminary – as the full report is expected to be released in a month – Chief Moore decided to release the information to the public in hopes of showing some transparency. He has taken off the field the supervisor and the technicians involved in this event and has ordered a top to bottom review of a bomb squad that is considered one of the best in the country.
Most people in the neighborhood couldn’t fathom why the number of explosives would be "visually" estimated, to which the Chief explained that it is sometimes necessary, when dangerous conditions call for minimal handling of the materials, as was the case on that day. It was hot, the explosives were leaking, and more, he adds, adding that if and when the protocol changes and if someone didn’t follow the guidelines, he would discipline accordingly.
For those still trying to deal with homes that they can’t live in, it’s a bittersweet announcement. On one hand, it places the blame on LAPD and the city, which will help them in their legal battle for recovery, they explain. Still, some have not been able to get things repaired, others say they are still in shock and afraid to go home.
To help residents affected by the incident, a new "27th Street Incident Community Resource Center" was opened Monday at the YMCA, located at 1006 E 28th Street. Services are available to help those still dealing with issues.
No word on when the last block in the affected neighborhood, which continues to be cordoned off, will be reopened.