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LAFD firefighter seriously injured in explosion during fire near homeless camp

LAFD PIO Erik Scott said the firefighter suffered significant head trauma

By Grace Toohey
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles firefighter was severely injured in an explosion Monday afternoon as crews battled a brush fire near a homeless encampment at the Sepulveda Basin.

The firefighter was airlifted to Northridge Hospital and listed in serious but stable condition, said Erik Scott, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

“During the exhaustive firefight, an explosion took place, and one of our members suffered significant head trauma,” Scott said.

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He said 10 other firefighters were also being evaluated at the hospital because of their proximity to the explosion, but none appeared to have significant injuries.

Crews first responded to a half-acre fire burning near Burbank Boulevard and Woodley Avenue just after 1:30 p.m., said Melissa Kelley, another LAFD spokesperson. The explosion occurred soon afterward, and additional firefighters were called to continue the fight.

It took about 30 minutes to quell the flames; about 80 firefighters responded to the call, Kelley said.

“The cause and what blasted is all under investigation,” Kelley said.

Fire officials initially reported the blaze broke out in the homeless encampment. No property was damaged. People nearby were evacuated after the explosion, Scott said.

“Fortunately it wasn’t fatal, like our dear L.A. County firefighter,” Scott said, a reference to Andrew Pontious, who was killed earlier this month in an explosion in the Antelope Valley. “This is a reminder of the inherent dangers of this chosen profession.”

The Los Angeles Police Department is assisting with the investigation, Scott said.

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