What was going on behind the Bembis Meat Market last night?
A dramatic explosion around 6:30 p.m. in “a building tucked behind” the market, located just south of downtown Los Angeles, killed one and sent three more to the hospital with serious injuries, according to CBS News.
The Los Angeles Times says the unmarked building “stores nitrous oxide cylinders used to power mini-bikes and go-carts…”
“… according to a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation.”
L.A. Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey tells us this morning that the cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, but that the LAFD's “arson counter-terrorism section is looking into it.”
Humphrey says that since a death is involved, investigators are conducting a very “high-profile” and “scientific” probe that has no room for speculation.
Witnesses at the scene told reporters they saw one bloody victim with severed limbs. More from CBS:
[Bembis Meat Market manager Ayman Eldik] says moments after the loud blast, two women pounded on the back door of the meat market, located off a shared alleyway with the other business, which doesn't have a storefront or signage.
“They were covered in blood,” said Eldik, gesturing up and down his torso.
We have not been able to confirm the contents of the reported cylinders at the business. But nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” by youngsters trying to get high, can combust if it comes into contact with various types of fuel or extreme heat — turning a cylinder of the stuff into a dangerous exploding rocket.
According to the LAFD, all last night's victims “were not yet dead when we took them to the hospital,” but one died while doctors tried to save him.
When we talked to the L.A. County Coroner this morning, the death had not been reported to the coroner's office. We'll update with his or her identity as soon as it's available.
Here's where the explosion went off, along an industrial stretch of South Grand Avenue: