[imagesource: The Indepedent]
On Tuesday afternoon, the southern California city of Ontario was rocked by a series of massive explosions, after a stash of fireworks inside a home ignited.
The house was full of commercial-grade fireworks, with one major explosion, in particular, causing damage to surrounding properties.
Tragically, two men, 38-year-old Alex Paez and his cousin, 20-year-old Cesar Paez, died, with several other people injured.
ABC7 reporting below:
…crews at the scene continued working to clear some 80 nearby properties of debris from the blast — a combination of exploded and possibly un-ignited ordnance and fireworks that are creating a dangerous situation.
They collected 60 containers, each with a 27-gallon capacity, of unexploded fireworks that they were planning to dispose of. They started burning the unexploded material on site Wednesday night and planned to continue in the morning.
Police say it could be several days before neighbors are let back into their homes as the bomb squad disposes of the unexploded ordnance.
In addition to the fireworks, a firearm was discovered among the debris on a neighbouring property.
This video captures the moment the largest explosion occurred:
On nearby properties, the blast shattered windows and caused extensive damage:
This is the terrifying moment when according to officials w/City of #Ontario explosions from a home filled with illegal fireworks sent debris flying through the surrounding area, shattered windows & threw people several ft. @ABC7 🎥 ARLENE FIERO pic.twitter.com/Xb8M9lLORH
— Jessica De Nova (@abc7jessica) March 16, 2021
Neighbours likened the moment the primary explosion occurred to an earthquake, with smaller blasts still going off hours later.
Around 50 firefighters were on the scene soon after the fire started, but couldn’t get too close because of the risk of additional explosions.
According to one resident, this had been a long time coming:
Arlene Fierro who lives next to the house, told ABC7 there have been issues with the home before.
“This happens year-round. I always hear explosions coming from the house, illegal fireworks,” Fierro said. “Explosion bombs, just loud sounds. It was constant all the time. I did call authorities plenty of times. There wasn’t much they could do, I guess they had to catch them in the act.”
That’s Fierro’s video above, and she went on to detail how her jeans caught fire, leading to burn scars on her thigh.
Another nearby resident, Suzie Owens, says she was physically thrown more than once by the force of the explosions.
According to NBC, fireworks are illegal in Ontario, as they are in many California cities, and police said this was a very unusual case:
Officials didn’t immediately have information about where the cache in the explosion came from, or what was happening in the home where the blasts erupted.
“We don’t know anything about the fireworks right now,” Ontario Fire Chief Ray Gayk said, adding that in his 30-year career he’s never seen anything like what happened Tuesday.
To finish, here’s a compilation of various eyewitness videos, showing the terror on the ground:
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