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10 firefighters injured, 1 critically while battling Van Nuys homeless encampment fire

Possible hand grenade found at scene of fire that injured 10 LAFD firefighters
Possible hand grenade found at scene of fire that injured 10 LAFD firefighters 02:29

An investigation continues Tuesday at the site adjacent to a softball field in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area where 11 Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters were injured Monday afternoon battling a fire at a homeless encampment.

Around 1:50 p.m. on Monday, firefighters responded to a half acre of grass burning at the homeless encampment at 15700 W. Burbank Blvd. in Van Nuys, and as crews got closer to flames, there was an explosion. 

The blast injured nearly a dozen of the firefighters, one of whom was airlifted to the Northridge Hospital Medical Center for critical injuries, including to his ear. He has since been released from the hospital.

With SkyCal overhead just after the explosion happened on Monday, the injured firefighter could be seen walking onto the helicopter with the support of paramedics, holding a cloth up to his ear.

"Fortunately, he's alert and talking, so, that is a good sign," said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott. "Spirits are positive, however, obviously a significant amount of pain that he's going through."

The firefighter has not yet been identified, but LAFD officials say he has been with the department for more than four years and works out of the Sherman Oaks station. 

Scott said on Tuesday that the operation was difficult. 

"There's makeshift homes in those areas," Scott said. "There's chairs, there's solar panels, there's a lot of unique debris you don't normally come across in a wilderness normal brush fire. So that adds to some of the challenges that are always evolving as first responders equally that we have to deal with."

An LAFD firefighter was critically injured from an explosion at a homeless encampment fire KCALNews

The Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad was contacted for assistance with the investigation as crews came upon what appeared to be a hand grenade.

Several cylindrical objects could be seen in the charred remains of the homeless encampment, which were initially believed to be propane canisters. They were determined not to be propane tanks. 

"We did discover there were suspicious devices," said LAPD Deputy Chief Ruby Flors. "We have also invoked our bomb squad, major crimes division, which is the investigative arm of this investigation."

No arrests have been made in the incident and the other injured firefighters were treated for their injuries and have since been released. 

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