North Hollywood Explosion: Failure To Follow Instructions

On Sunday, September 24, 2006 at 10:06 AM, three Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, two LAFD Rescue Ambulances, one Rehab/Air Tender Unit, one EMS Battalion Captain and one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team under the direction of Battalion Chief Peter Benesch responded to an explosion at 5505 Bonner Avenue in North Hollywood.

Firefighters arrived quickly to discover residents streaming from a two story garden style apartment building on the southwest corner of Cumpston Street and Bonner Avenue.

Firefighters safely directed the seventeen adult and five child evacuees across Cumpston Street as they commenced a systematic search of the twelve apartments in the 5,197 square-foot building.

There was no fire, but structural damage was evident.

Pursuant of protocol, the Southern California Gas Company responded to the scene, and Los Angeles Housing Department officials were notified.

Firefighters soon determined that fifteen full-release aerosol insecticide 'bug bombs' had been used contrary to instructions within one upstairs apartment in an effort to exterminate pests.

An adult male occupying the apartment below at the time of the blast was the only person injured. Following care for a minor head laceration, he declined further treatment or transportation.

Inspectors from the City's Department of Building and Safety later evaluated the integrity of the 42 year-old wood frame and stucco structure, and declared all but two of the dozen apartments fit for occupancy.

The upstairs apartment where the blast occurred, and the apartment immediately below were deemed unfit for tenancy pending repairs.

The four persons who occupied the pair of apartments were to receive placement assistance from the building owner.

Damage from the blast is estimated at $110,000 ($85,000 structure & $25,000 contents). Firefighters determined the explosion was caused by flammable vapors from the excessive number of fumigant canisters coming into contact with the pilot light of the kitchen stove, which the occupant failed to extinguish prior to discharging the insecticide.

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