LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles city attorney has filed dozens of criminal charges alleging fire code and safety violations against the owner of a building that exploded in the city's downtown and injured 12 firefighters, officials announced Friday.
The owner of the building faces up to 68 years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted, City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. The city attorney can only file misdemeanor charges, not felonies.
A thunderous explosion rocked the building, which housed a vape and marijuana accessories wholesaler, during the massive fire in May. Firefighters on the roof scrambled down ladders through the blaze, with their protective coats aflame.
“Everybody off the roof!” a firefighter shouted in scanner traffic captured on Broadcastify.com.
“Mayday mayday mayday! All companies out of the building. Mayday mayday mayday!” another shouted.
Some ran out onto sidewalks, where they tore off their burning yellow gear, including melted helmets. The wall of flames shot out the building and burned seats inside a fire truck across the street.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
The devastating Boyd Street fire — smoke from which could be seen for miles — prompted the city's fire chief, Ralph Terrazas, to order inspections of locations that house hazardous materials. The city attorney's charges — which were also filed against other building owners and operators in the area of the fire — came after those increased inspections.
“The fire and explosion that ripped through the Boyd Street property caused our firefighters great suffering — and came perilously close to costing their lives. 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,” Feuer said in a statement. “The public is counting on us to protect them from a potential catastrophe.”