Two people were killed when a large amount of “commercial-grade” fireworks inside a Southern California home ignited a massive explosion Tuesday, prompting evacuations of the surrounding area, officials said.
The eruption occurred around 12:30 p.m. local time in Ontario, a suburb of San Bernardino, sending a large plume of smoke in the air in the middle of a residential neighborhood. At least one other home was on fire as well as several other structures, KABC-TV reported.
Evacuation orders were issued for the immediate area, the Ontario Fire Department said. Those in need of assistance were being directed to a temporary reception center.
“They are commercial grade,” Ontario Fire Department Chief Ray Gayk said in a news conference, “like you would normally see in the fireworks show,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Other minor injuries were reported.
The two people who died were “in the area of the explosion and the fire,” Gayk said, according to FOX 11 in Los Angeles.
The scene showed that the home appeared to be some ranch-style property, according to media reports. One video showed firefighters rescuing a horse from a burning structure.
The explosion could be seen from as far as Anaheim — nearly 30 miles away — as smoke filled the air, according to video footage of the incident posted online.
The fireworks sparked a fire at two houses on the property, according to the Times.
“The roof is gone, burned out,” city spokesman Dan Bell said of the structure at the back of the property. “The one on the front — I was on the street; I could see flames coming through the roof. It will most likely be a total loss.”
Neighbor Jennifer Nalbandian told the Times the explosion felt like an earthquake. She opened her front door afterward. “The boom pushed me back, and the window shattered,” she said. “I got hit with the after-blast when I opened the door.”
Some neighbors said the people who live at the home often set off fireworks around midnight.
“They always pop them off, random sometimes, like at night shows or a holiday,” neighbor Oscar Vargas Ibarra, 17, told the Times. He said he had no idea they had fireworks this powerful.
In a tweet, the city warned people to stay away from the immediate area.
The incident is being investigated by several agencies, including the FBI.