Los Angeles

‘Our Life is Still a Mess.' South LA Explosion Victims Are Still in Hotels, 10 Months Later

“And suddenly I heard a scream say ‘fire in the hole!’” he said. "And suddenly the big explosion. I saw the sun coming to me, my family was screaming."

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Nearly 10 months ago, an accidental fireworks explosion on 27th and San Pedro streets in South LA in front of Jose Becerra's home put him in a hotel. He's still there.

“Our life is still a mess," he said. "It’s almost one year this happened! I know the city is trying to do the best but still, we just want to go back home and have our claims with the city resolved as soon as possible.”

The day of the explosion, Becerra shot video on his cellphone through his front window right before the blast.

“And suddenly I heard a scream say ‘fire in the hole!’” he said. "And suddenly the big explosion. I saw the sun coming to me, my family was screaming."

Some 28 homes were damaged or destroyed in the blast June 30, 2021.

The LAPD bomb squad detonated illegal fireworks they had seized, but had made a miscalculation. An expert said in February that he had warned it was too much to detonate in one shot, but said he was ignored.

Today, the city of LA is still paying for 15 families to live in a hotel while repairs are done on their street.

Some neighbors say they’re frustrated with the delay in repairs. Hector Garcia says he's still missing his windows.

“I had to deal with cold, the heat, with this – definitely not going to be fun in the summer," he said.

Another neighbor across the street complains his door hinges haven’t been fixed yet.

The LAPD still has a presence in the area, 10 months later. Some neighbors like the 24/7 professional security, but others question the taxpayer costs to do so.

LA City councilman Curren Price said in August 2021 that "health and safety has no price.”

Tuesday in a statement, he says his office is “working to get neighbors to a place of normalcy and even improve on some areas that were neglected. We have been with them every step of the way from providing meals, distributing grants, new furniture, replacing windows, painting homes, repairing, etc.”

"They’re repairing walls, all the front of the house, the structure of the house," Becerra said.

The councilman says his office is overseeing the repairs of Becerra's house in particular and that it’s expected to be ready in May.

Becerra's attorney says the city still hasn’t reimbursed his family for medical bills and ongoing therapy.

"They have not paid up for the damage they have caused," Viridiana Aceves of Alder Law Firm said.

"It’s not enough to say, 'I’m sorry we messed up.' They have to take responsibility," Aceves said.

Becerra says he just wants to be home again.

"We need our house. And I know the city is working but we want to come back to our lives again in the way we live," Becerra said.

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