South LA explosion victims remain displaced one year later

It’s been one year since an accidental fireworks explosion on 27th and San Pedro streets in South Los Angeles forced families to evacuate.

Natalie Quintanilla and her three kids were among the families that were displaced by the botched detonation. 

"I feel like we were just thrown out of our home. When I come back and look at the apartment, it’s depressing to look at things. You just lift something up and there’s glass everywhere," said Quintanilla.

Quintanilla’s was one of the dozens of families that were relocated to a nearby hotel. The blast on the 700 block of East 27th Street damaged nearly 40 vehicles and 35 properties, injuring 17 people and displacing dozens more.

RELATED: LAPD bomb squad reportedly ignored expert's warning prior to South LA fireworks blast

The final report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) regarding the incident confirmed that the cause of the explosion was a result of human error when officers miscalculated the weight of the explosives they were detonating.

RELATED: LAPD admitting some fault in South LA fireworks explosion seen as bittersweet news for displaced residents

In response to the findings, and to avoid future incidents, the Los Angeles Police Department Emergency Services (Bomb Squad) has changed several explosives-related policies, including updated training protocol and additional supervision when handling explosive devices.

"We’re still waiting for disciplinary action from those responsible. The community is still demanding accountability. We’re going to continue pressing that case with the department making sure that this doesn’t happen again in any community," said District 9 LA City Councilmember Curren Price.

The councilmember quickly delivered a $1 million relief fund for cleanup services and to help expedite payments for repairs to damaged homes. His office also secured an additional $5 million from the city to pay for longer-term corporate housing, home and sidewalk repairs, and other community beautification projects.

Six displaced families have been relocated to permanent housing. Eight households, including tenants and property owners, have declined or may still be considering services offered by the city.  Some neighbors say they’re frustrated with delays in the process.

"I want the city to pay off what I lost. It’s back and forth all the time and we’re tired of it. If you’re going to tell us something, stick to it. You guys are the ones that came and did what you did. We are not the ones that prepared for this and went to school for these types of situations. We are not prepared for stuff like this," said Quintanilla

Twenty-six of the most severely impacted households received direct assistance in the amount of $10,000 each.  More than 25 affected households also received $2,000 Angeleno cards for minor expenses.

The City has received more than 400 explosion-related claims. Nearly 100 have been settled, with most others in progress.

Social service providers continue to work with affected households, making connections with mental health services, utility and rental assistance, food, and other needed resources.

Councilmember Price admits the process for relocating and reimbursing displaced residents has been drawn out.

"We’re trying to be supportive and sensitive.  We’re trying to be mindful of the impact on kids and doing everything we can to smooth that over.  I agree it’s taken too long and it should be quicker, but we think we’re doing it the right way," said Price.

Repairs on 17 of the damaged homes have included installing new windows, painting interiors and exteriors, fixing stucco, repairing damaged wood and ironwork, painting, plumbing work and updating kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The renovations paid for by the city are expected to be completed by the end of July.

Approximately 18 displaced families currently remain in 21 city-paid hotel rooms, including some receiving relocation assistance.