The Los Angeles City Fire Department responded Friday to news reports concerning a captain injured May 16 when a massive fireball engulfed a burning commercial building.
“Though his hands sustained significant burns, he has not lost full use,” reads a statement posted to the LAFD Facebook page.
Capt. Victor Aguirre of Engine Company Nine is the last of 11 firefighters injured to remain hospitalized after suffering third-degree burns to his hands. Aquirre was the last person off the roof after flames enveloped a crew performing ventilation.
The fire broke out in a one-story commercial building occupied by several businesses, including a company specializing in distributing smoke shop products. Firefighters arrived to find moderate smoke and small canisters of butane littering the street.
Initiating “an aggressive attack on the seat of the fire,” firefighters arriving with Engine Company Nine made an interior attack through the front of the building while Aguirre and other firefighters climbed to the roof.
Inside, firefighters grew concerned about rising smoke pressure and heat. As they moved to exit the building what has been described as either an explosion or flashover suddenly overtook them, Fire Chief Ralph Terrazus said.
“Firefighters came down the ladder from the roof with their coats on fire,” he said.
To provide timely financial assistance to the injured firefighters and their families, a fund has been established through the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Fire Foundation. Meanwhile, LAFD is investigating the cause of the explosion together with a review of volatile materials kept by vape and smoke shops.