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L.A. explosion kills worker, injures another; rescuers search for man possibly buried in rubble

July 30, 2010 | 10:54 am

One worker was killed Friday and another was critically injured in an industrial explosion in a South L.A. welding shop as rescue crews searched for a third worker who they feared was buried in the debris.

The L.A. Fire Department responded to the explosion and fire at 6:51 a.m. at a commercial metal-works building in the 900 block of East 59th St., said Capt. Steve Ruda.

Two victims found outside the building were taken to a hospital. One of those died, Ruda said.

Initial search-and-rescue efforts for a possible third man were unsuccessful, Ruda said.

Investigators believe the building was filled with gas when the workers arrived to open it, but they were unsure what type of gas it was or how the leak could have occurred, Ruda said.

Location of explosion on Florence area of South L.A. Click for a larger map. Dennis Lord, a spokesman for the Gas Company, said investigators from his company were on scene.

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire almost immediately, at which point they entered the building to search for the third worker.

A search dog entered the building first, then a cadaver dog, Ruda said. But neither had been able to find the missing man.

The explosion destroyed the building.

-- Sam Allen in South Los Angeles

Photo: A shattered windshield from across the street of an industrial explosion in a South L.A. welding shop, where one person was killed one worker was killed Friday and another was critically injured.  Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Map shows location of building in the Florence area of South Los Angeles. Source: Mapping L.A./Google maps