Downtown LA

Drone Video Shows Firefighters Escaping Fireball in Downtown LA Explosion

Twelve firefighters were injured in a powerful blast at a downtown Los Angeles building.

Drone video shows firefighters escaping from a burning downtown Los Angeles building Saturday through an enormous cloud of smoke and a menacing fireball.

The video obtained by the NBC4 I-Team captured firefighters climbing down a ladder from the roof of the single-story building as they're surrounded by fire and smoke. Twelve firefighters were injured, but none of the injuries are considered life-threatening, the LAFD said.

Warning: The video below might not be suitable for some viewers.

Drone footage captured the explosion that gutted a business and injured 12 firefighters in downtown Los Angeles. The firefighters are recovering after they escaped the burning building over the weekend.

The Los Angeles Fire Department says it is not only concerned with the firefighters getting treatment; there’s also concern for the firefighters who witnessed the explosion.

"Our worst nightmare is being burned while doing our job," David Ortiz, of the LAFD, said. "These firefighters were trying to self-rescue when the explosion occurred."

Warning: The video below might not be suitable for some viewers.

Drone footage shows firefighters escaping an explosion. Rick Montanez reported on NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, 2020.

The department said two of the firefighters were critically hurt, but both firefighters who were intubated were off ventilators Sunday evening.

Their protective gear was left charred, and the ladder truck closest to the explosion was also burned in the blast at a business identified as Smokes and Tokes. Butane canisters were found at the property south of Little Tokyo, but it is not immediately know whether they contributed to the blast that could be felt for blocks away.

Overnight, firefighters gathered and comforted each other at County USC Medical Center where their injured colleagues are getting treatment.

"It's been a long night for the fire department," Ortiz said.

Sunday, a smaller but steady stream of visitors came by the hospital. Three firefighters were released by morning. And the LAFD says another firefighter was treated and released last night for a minor injury. 

Hospital officials say the burn unit is treating the remaining firefighters, with injuries ranging from fair to critical.

Warning: the video below may not be suitable for some viewers.

Investigators will be combing through debris, looking for burn patterns and talking to witnesses as they work to determine a cause to the fire that put so many lives at risk. Kim Tobin reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Sunday May 17, 2020.

And then, there’s the emotional toll for those who saw the explosion first hand.

"It's stressful for the members that witnessed it and were not injured," Ortiz said. "We're offering them the help of the department psychologist and support from peer groups."

The NBC4 I-Team confirmed the video is part of the LAFD investigation.

LAFD says burn injuries can sometimes be accompanied by several complications, like infections in the wounds and blood stream.

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