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LAPD’s Fireworks Explosion in South L.A. Has Cost Taxpayers More Than $9 Million, According to City Controller

So far, the city has spent more than four and half million dollars covering the costs of keeping dozens of families sheltered, mostly in a Downtown hotel.

Office of the Inspector General

The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) botched fireworks detonation in South L.A. two years ago has cost taxpayers more than $9 million so far, according to Los Angeles City Controller Kenneth Mejia.

After an anonymous tip alleging that someone was selling illegal fireworks out of an alley came in on June 30, 2021, LAPD officers were led to a residence on East 27th Street in South Los Angeles.

When officers arrived at the pink house early that morning they found tens of thousands of pounds of commercial fireworks, in addition to hundreds of individual “homemade fireworks.”

Fearing that the “homemade” explosives were too risky to transport, authorities made the fateful decision to detonate the fireworks in a “total containment vessel”—an expensive enclosure designed to suppress the blast of an explosion—in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood.

The fireworks were loaded into the vessel, in front of a crowd of reporters and cameras, and a massive explosion ensued, destroying homes and sending the 500+ pound door of the containment vessel more than 1300 feet into someone’s roof.

In a subsequent report, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms confirmed that loading up the vessel with too much explosive and too large of a counter charge led to the devastating blast.

Commercial fireworks found at the residence on East 27th Street.

On Thursday morning, City Controller Mejia outlined a list of “identifiable costs spent” related to the explosion, which displaced over 80 residents and injured more than a dozen people.

Relocating displaced residents ate up more than half of the $9.5 million in costs spent.

So far, the city has spent more than four and half million dollars covering the costs of keeping dozens of families sheltered, mostly in a Downtown hotel.

The L.A. Times reported earlier this year that 15 families were still living in the hotel as of the last week of June.

Cleaning up the detonation site on East 27th street and the surrounding neighborhood reportedly cost taxpayers $1.55 million.

Liability claims, thus far, have cost the city nearly $2 million, according to Mejia. In June, the L.A. Times reported that the city had received more than 400 claims relating to the fireworks explosion and had reached settlements in 154 cases. 

The cost for replacing the “containment vessel,” that LAPD Bomb Squad members overloaded with explosives, cost over a million dollars to replace, according to Mejia.

Mejia highlighted that costs remain ongoing. The city has already committed an additional $1.7 million to cover future costs associated with the blast. Time will tell if that’s enough.

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