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'It Felt Like A Really Hard Earthquake': Neighbors Shocked After 16 Injured In Botched Illegal Firework Detonation By Police

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - At least 16 people, including 10 law enforcement officers, were injured and several cars and structures were damaged Wednesday evening when police attempted to safely detonate illegal fireworks that were seized in South Los Angeles.

"It felt like a really hard earthquake like we never felt before, said Jazmin Vazquez, a resident. "We were surprised so we ran out. It sounded like an explosion but really close to our family."

Other neighbors said they were shaken out of their beds and rattled off their couches from the impact of the explosion.

Police attempted to dispose of some of the approximately 5,000 pounds of fireworks they discovered earlier Wednesday by detonating them in an armored container at about 7:40 p.m. Wednesday.

However, the force of the explosion destroyed the container and caused damage to several cars parked on the street.

"I was in the room watching TV and I just heard something really strong hit," said Brandon Vasquez, who lives nearby. "I came out running from the room really worried and scared."

The Los Angeles Police Department said the fireworks were being stored in a Bomb Squad trailer as a precautionary measure and it is unknown what caused the explosion.

"This vessel should have been able to dispose of that material," said Chief Michel Moore of LAPD in a press conference late Wednesday night.

Chief Moore said the injuries to the 10 civilians are non-life-threatening.

Arturo Cejas, 27, was arrested for possession of the fireworks at a home in the 2700 block of East 27th Street, near San Pedro Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police added the fireworks were purchased out of state.

Cejas's bail was set at $500,000. Chief Moore said the suspect had a 10-year-old brother with him, and police will be pursuing child endangerment charges.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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