Inventories confiscated, motorway lanes blocked: officials fight against the scourge of illegal fireworks
The run-up to July 4th was explosive.
Amid the nightly cacophony of rockets bursting, officials across Los Angeles County have been busy handling fireworks that can start fires, cause fatal explosions and even derail traffic. Pets also appreciate the acoustic nightmare that is also associated with the devices.
The 101 freeway in Agoura Hills was closed for hours in both directions Thursday night after the California Highway Patrol received reports of fireworks raining down from a bridge over the highway at around 7:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Sheriff officials found a suspicious package and reported that they saw an explosion in the middle of the bridge near the Palo Comado Interchange, according to a CHP incident report.
Palo Comado Interchange, including all ramps, is closed due to a suspicious package on the bridge. The police are waiting for the arson / explosives unit to arrive. The lock is expected to last at least an hour. The main motorway route remains open.
Please avoid the area.
– City of Agoura Hills (@CityAgouraHills) July 2, 2021
CHP’s West Valley office tweeted at around 9 p.m. that all lanes on the freeway from the Palo Comado overpass to Chesebro Road were closed. A bomb squad destroyed a possible “incendiary device” around a quarter past midnight, and the lanes were released at 1:20 am, according to the report.
It’s not clear if cars were targeted on purpose or if the debris was blown down by fireworks. Anyway, if cars swerved at high speed, an accident could ensue, CHP officer Weston Haver said.
Witnesses said the fireworks “fell on the cars, which made people nervous,” said Haver, “because they are not sure whether they will be shot or something.”
Earlier in the day, Los Angeles police seized about £ 2,000 of illegal fireworks from a location not far from the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles.
Officers and personnel from Bombing Squad found a 60-foot connex box filled with explosives shortly after 11 a.m. in the 700 block of Kohler Street, where there were reports of fireworks, according to LAPD officer William Cooper.
The fireworks were loaded onto a truck and taken to a warehouse, the LAPD said in a tweet.
Cooper said no one was arrested in an ongoing investigation.
Some raids were more successful than others.
A similar seizure of several thousand pounds of fireworks by Los Angeles police earlier this week turned into a disaster when a bomb squad tried to safely detonate some of the devices and instead caused a runaway explosion.
Wednesday’s explosion devastated a neighborhood in South LA, injuring 17 people, including officials and at least one federal agent. An investigation has now been launched into how the allegedly carefully controlled procedure went wrong.
From the recently seized inventory to the daily audible explosions, one thing seems clear – the county and beyond is littered with a myriad of pyrotechnics.
More than a quarter tonne of fireworks were collected at a buyback event held at Brand Park in Mission Hills on Wednesday – a practice akin to buying back guns. A press release posted the next day said that the detonation of the seized fireworks in South LA exposed the public safety threat posed by the explosives.
Today the officers responded to a radio call to meet the fire department. When they arrived they found a 60-foot Connex box containing about 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks. Bomb Squad put the items on a single van and moved them to one
– LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) July 2, 2021
Councilor Monica Rodriguez ran the program in her district, handing out gift cards, Dodgers tickets, Universal Studios passes, and other gifts in exchange for the devices.
Rodriguez, who represents communities in high fire zones in the northeast of the San Fernando Valley, said the program was the first of its kind in Los Angeles and in a statement called it a “new tool in our citywide efforts to combat the use of illegal fireworks” . .
“The initial success bodes well for a larger city-wide effort that can bring peace back to our neighborhoods and improve public safety for residents,” she said.