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LAFD Captain Victor Aguirre Sues Owner Of Downtown LA Building That Blew Up, Burning Him Catastrophically

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Los Angeles Fire Department captain who was severely burned last year in an explosion is suing the owner of the Downtown LA building where it happened.

The explosion happened in May of 2020 in the Toy District of Downtown LA, an area known as "Bong Row," according to the lawsuit. Twelve firefighters were injured, with two requiring ventilation and four going straight to intensive care unit for burns.

capt victor aguirre lawsuit
(credit: LA Superior Court Lawsuit)

The lawsuit filed by Capt. Victor Aguirre claims he suffered catastrophic injuries in the explosion, including severe burns over most of his body, and third-degree burns to his hands that were so devastating, each of his fingers had to be partially amputated. Aguirre has undergone 25 surgeries since that fire.

Steve Sungho Lee, the property's owner, and two stores – Green Buddah, LLC and Smoke Tokes, LLC, a honey oil supplier are among those named as defendants in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, firefighters responding to the fire were unaware that the property contained "hundreds of illegally and improperly stored butane canisters and thousands of illegally and improperly stored nitrous oxide cylinders (collectively the EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS) within storage that was unsafe."

Firefighters heard loud popping sounds just minutes after entering the burning building, which was soon engulfed by a "fireball blowtorched" out of the building, according to the lawsuit. Aguirre had been part of the fire attack team that was retreating from the roof of the building and was the last person off it.

Since the explosion, Smoke Tokes and Green Buddha reached a plea agreement with the city of Los Angeles in connection with the fire, agreeing to pay more than $127,000 in fines and stop operating their businesses in those locations.

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