Semi Truck Explodes, Injuring 9 Los Angeles Firefighters

( – Betraying the difficulties of using alternative fuel sources for large equipment, a natural-gas powered tractor trailer exploded in Los Angeles, injuring nine members of LA’s fire department. Thankfully, no one was killed. Two of the men were considered “critical” and while one has since been let out of the hospital, the other man was successfully extubated and is doing better.

The cause of the initial problem is unclear as investigations are ongoing. What is known is that on Thursday morning, February 15 firefighters responded to a 911 call from the operator of a semi-truck who was reporting irregularities with the truck’s fuel system which used compressed natural gas instead of diesel.

Around 7 a.m. local time, as firefighters were responding to the call and working on flames coming from one of the trucks twin 100-gallon tanks, one of the tanks exploded. Multiple firemen were down instantly and a hurried call came in for five additional firefighter units and five EMS units to assist. Two of the men were considered critical injuries.

LAFD Captain Erik Scott said the explosion damaged a nearby transformer and sent a shockwave rippling across the neighborhood. Residents reported damage to their homes, and one local said he was literally lifted off his feet as if he jumped.

During a press briefing discussing the incident, Mayor Karen Bass called it a “difficult day” for LA. She offered words of support to members of the fire department, saying that the area’s 4 million residents stood with them.

The “clean-air” vehicle used compressed natural gas which is incredibly explosive, especially when under 3,300 pounds of pressure within the tanks. The driver reported a problem during a 911 call after she said she noticed “abnormalities” with the vehicle.

Video captured the moment the explosion happened. The transformer blowout was also caught on video. You can also hear emergency personnel discussing the explosion and calling for help on the clip. The charred remains of the vehicle can be seen smoldering. Firefighters were concerned about the second tank on the vehicle which did not explode, but still presented a threat as long as fire was present.

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