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Dozens of residents displaced by an explosive warehouse fire southeast of downtown Los Angeles might have to remain evacuated from their homes through Saturday while crews ensure there are no lingering health risks, authorities said on Thursday.
While many of the evacuees affected by the blaze were allowed to return home Wednesday night, several returned to the evacuation site due to a foul smell at their homes.
The fire, fueled by barrels of magnesium, was reported around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday at a plastics business in the 3700 block of Fruitland Avenue in Maywood, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
The blaze was extinguished about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, and had at least one flare up overnight, more than 24 hours after it ripped through a pair of commercial buildings, sparking a series of strong explosions and sending a thick plume of noxious smoke over the region.
Thousands of customers were without power early Tuesday, about 300 residents were evacuated and a smoke advisory was issued for Los Angeles County, where residents from south of downtown LA to the San Fernando Valley and beyond reported an odor from the fire.
Officials conducted air quality tests that have revealed no traces of chemicals in the smoke, authorities said at a Wednesday morning news conference.
Fire authorities initially said they expected evacuation orders to be lifted Thursday, however residents whose homes remain on quarantine include those living on 52nd Street directly behind the fire. Authorities said evacuations could remain through Friday or perhaps Saturday, pending additional air testing by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Dangerous conditions imposed by "tons" of chemicals at the site hampered firefighters' efforts to douse the flames, authorities said. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said that in addition to magnesium, other metals such as coppers, zinc and lead were present at the metal-recycling plant, along with chemicals and propane.
Many of the evacuated residents sought shelter at the Maywood YMCA. A sheriff's official said 138 people spent Tuesday night at the shelter. About 60 were allowed to enter their homes Wednesday to retrieve some needed items.
NBC4 confirmed Da Xiong Pan, the owner of the recycling facility, was recently charged with multiple felonies for improperly storing and disposing hazardous materials at the site. He is scheduled to appear in court next month.
No injuries were reported. A cause was not immediately determined.
City News Service contributed to this report.