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Industrial blaze rocks South L.A., injures two firefighters

July 14, 2010 |  7:47 am

An enormous fire tore through a complex of industrial buildings in South Los Angeles early Wednesday, igniting explosions, collapsing walls and leaving two firefighters with minor injuries.

The blaze rocked the neighborhood with debris-laden blasts, according to Erik Scott, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. It took more than 200 firefighters several hours to contain the fire.

Firefighters were still at the scene when the sun rose Wednesday, Scott said. Six task forces and up to 100 firefighters are expected to remain at the scene throughout the day because one of the structures may contain dangerous metal alloys, including titanium and magnesium.

Scott said he was looking into reports that the building may have contained titanium golf clubs.

The initial report of a fire came in at 11:53 p.m. Tuesday, Scott said. Nearly 100 firefighters were dispatched to the complex of buildings at 731 E. Slauson Ave.

Shortly after the first crews arrived, they were ordered out of the building to fight the fire in defensive mode, Scott said. Minutes later, a wall collapsed. Shortly after, part of the roof caved in.

An explosion at 12:25 a.m. shook the complex, shattering the windows of emergency vehicles and raining chunks of concrete and titanium chips down on the neighborhood.

Two firefighters, including a captain, suffered hand injuries and were taken to hospitals, Scott said.

By 2 a.m. there were about 220 firefighters at the scene. They contained the fire, but it was still burning Wednesday.

The blaze appeared to span the entire block of Slauson Avenue from McKinley Avenue to Poloma Avenue, just a few hundred feet from Los Angeles Academy Middle School.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo: Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters Nelson Joo, left,  William Lugg and Michael Fortini  take air quality readings in the rubble of a giant industrial fire in the 700 block of East Slauson Avenue in Los Angeles. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times