The FBI is investigating a massive explosion that killed two people and a dog in Southern California that prompted area residents to run for cover, authorities said.
The explosion took place shortly before 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Commercial fireworks ignited at a roughly 1-acre residential lot near West Francis Street and Fern Avenue, Ontario Fire Department Chief Ray Gayk said. The fire department’s bomb squad has been working on clearing the area, where windows were shattered and nearby structures were damaged. Several agencies, including the FBI, are investigating the incident, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“They are commercial grade as you would normally see in the fireworks show,” Gayk said of the explosives during a media briefing.
Gayk confirmed that two people and a dog were killed in the explosion and three others suffered minor injuries but did not need to be hospitalized. A horse and another dog were also injured in the blast, but are doing well, CBS News reported.
As officials attempted to collect any potentially hazardous debris materials off the ground, the Ontario Fire Department and Ontario Police Department issued an evacuation order and shelter-in-place order as a precautionary measure since unexploded fireworks may still be on the ground. Temporary road closures in the area were also issued, a report said
Flames tore through two homes on the same lot after the explosion, said Ontario spokesman Dan Bell, the LA Times reported.
“The roof is gone, burned out,” Bell said of the rear property. “The one on the front — I was on the street; I could see flames coming through the roof. It will most likely be a total loss.”
Area residents reported feeling the ground shake and seeing pillars of black and white smoke as the fireworks went off. The force of the blast frightened residents making many run to safety. Some people reported seeing the smoke as far away as Anaheim, a report said.
Authorities said it could take as long as four days to declare the area safe, Ontario Police Chief Michael Lorenz said, CBS reported.