(Reuters) – A leaky gasoline tanker exploded in south Los Angeles on Sunday, injuring two people and sending at least one manhole cover flying into the air and flames shooting out of a storm drain to threaten nearby buildings.
A plume of thick black smoke rose into the sky over 216 West Slauson Avenue in Florence as planes headed for nearby Los Angeles International Airport, according to photographs on social media.
“At 7:45 a.m., there were reports of a gas leak with an explosion,” firefighter Nicholas Prange told Reuters in a phone interview.
“Fire was coming from a storm drain and a leaking tanker,” he said.
Initially, it was thought to be a natural gas explosion but authorities later determined it was “a 9,000-gallon gasoline tanker that was leaking,” LAFD said on its website.
“The fumes came into contact with an unknown ignition source and exploded into flames,” LAFD said.
Arson investigators were on the scene to determine the cause.
There were no fatalities but two people were injured and transported to an area hospital, LAFD said.
Underground pressure shot metal manhole covers on the street into the air, Prange said.
“Companies put water on the fire, trying to protect two buildings that were exposed to the flames,” he said, noting a hazardous materials team was on the scene.
The fire damaged a single-family home and a family was displaced by the incident, LAPD said.
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker