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Firefighters Who Survived DTLA Explosion Reunite With Medical Staff That Treated Them

An emotional reunion for firefighters and the doctors who helped save their lives took place Wednesday.

The firefighters were battling a massive blaze at a downtown Los Angeles business in May, when canisters full of highly flammable butane hidden inside the building exploded.

Several of the 12 LA firefighters injured in this massive fire and explosion on Boyd Street were rushed to the Grossman Burn Center in West Hills, after suffering severe burns.

On Wednesday, the firefighters returned to give thanks to the women and men who treated them.

“Me and a few other guys were actually inside that building…overwhelming amount of heat…kind of black out for a little bit. Next thing I know, I’m outside,” Stephen Osterberg, one of the LAFD firefighters, said.

Investigators say firefighters were likely unaware highly flammable butane canisters were stored inside the downtown business, that the I-Team later revealed had been advertising tobacco and marijuana smoking accessories. 

Butane is often used to produce a concentrated form of marijuana called honey oil.

“I opened my eyes. I saw the flames were swirling around my face mask, around my helmet–I look over, my entire left arm was on fire. Everything was on fire,” LAFD Fire Station 86 Captain Scott Barclay said.

In response to the explosion, the chief immediately called for citywide inspections of commercial buildings.

The I-Team learned that during inspections conducted after the fire, the city identified 382 businesses that use high quantities of hazardous materials around Los Angeles, with potential red flags including “access challenges” that could pose a danger to firefighters’ safety.

“We cross referenced our records, and we found that 108 of those businesses were not in our system,” LAFD Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said Wednesday. “We found 11 of the businesses had so much illegal storage we had to shut them down.”

In LA, businesses need a permit to store large quantities of flammable gases, solids and liquids and are required to post a placard warning if hazardous materials are stored inside. 

Investigators say no placard was visible on the building where the lucky survivors answered what could have been a fatal call.

Three months later, investigators are still looking into the cause of the Boyd Street fire, with a final report expected soon. The chief said Wednesday that the review of businesses with large amounts of hazardous materials will happen every year.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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