300 charges filed in hazardous materials fire

The owners and operators of four buildings and three businesses in downtown Los Angeles are facing more than 300 criminal charges related to a massive fire and explosion in May.

“The fire and explosion that ripped through the Boyd Street property caused our firefighters great suffering and came perilously close to costing their lives,” city attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement Friday. “We’ll do everything we can to hold the owners and operators of buildings and businesses responsible for complying with our fire and safety codes.

The public is counting on us to protect them from a potential catastrophe.”A dozen firefighters were injured during the incident. The Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to a fire round 6:30 p.m. May 16 on East Boyd Street in downtown Los Angeles. Firefighters forced their way into the building.

A short time later, a huge explosion occurred. Video of the incident posted by the LAFD shows firefighters retreating from a burning building as a massive fireball engulfs nearby structures. “The searing heat melted helmets, burned through protective coats and hoods, and blistered and charred nearby fire apparatus,” LAFD Spokesperson wrote in a press release after the incident. LAFD Fire Chief Ralph Terraza said the incident easily could have turned out much worse.

“We are one step closer to holding accountable the individuals who may have contributed to the circumstances that precipitated this fire and, hopefully, be able to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Terrazas said in a statement Friday. All four of the properties involved allegedly had hazardous materials illegally stored. The fire started at a building owned by Steve Sungho Lee, who faces up to 68 years in jail and thousands in fines. Businesses that operate in the buildings — Smoke Tokes, Bio Hazard and Green Buddha — also face huge penalties.The most egregious of the violations include failure to classify hazardous commodities, hazmat storage without proper permits, failure to identify aerosols, failure to have proper sprinkler coverage, and failure to have hazmat warning signs.
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