Los Angeles

Gas Tank Explosion in South LA Creates Giant Smoke Cloud, Panic

"You could see the fire, it was like a tornado 10-feet high," a witness said.

Two people were injured in an explosion caused by a gasoline leak in South Los Angeles Sunday morning, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

At around 7:45 a.m. a 9,000-gallon tanker that was leaking gasoline caught fire and exploded, and two people were injured, along with a home burning down, the LAFD said.

Two women were hospitalized. One of the victims suffered serious burns, the department said.

"It was a massive explosion," said Joseph Casillas, who said he saw flames rising from the sewers following the blast. "You could see the fire, it was like a tornado 10-feet high."

The fire caused pressure underground that displaced several manhole covers, which initially led to reports that the explosion was the result of a natural gas leak, authorities said.

A hazardous materials squad was on scene to assist in preventing the gasoline from reaching the ocean and an arson team is investigating, the department said.

Thirty people were displaced due to the damage and the remaining odor, LAFD assistant chief Jamie Moore said in an evening news conference. Moore said Slauson Avenue will likely remained closed until sometime on Monday. 

The assistant chief also said there was minimal damage in the storm drains and that the department was investigating with help from the Los Angeles Police Department to determine why the container was in a parking lot so close to homes.

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