Hundreds of firefighters and other emergency workers gathered to remember Los Angeles city firefighter Brent A. Lovrien, who died in a freak accident on March 26 when a saw he was using to break into a locked, smoke-filled electrical storage room near Sepulveda and La Tijera caused a spark that set off a mass explosion of undetected gases inside the room.

The series of events leading to the bizarre tragedy, fire inspectors have determined, began when a fire caused by a ground fault broke out in an underground electrical vault, building up highly pressurized gases so intense that a manhole cover, 250 feet away from the fire near a Staples store, was sent flying 20 feet into the air.

When Lovrien and fire engineer Anthony J. Guzman arrived with other firefighters arrived after the manhole explosion, they found smoke pouring from a nearby locked electrical room at 8800 Sepulveda. Tragically, fire officials say, Lovrien was killed and Guzman badly hurt when “products of combustion reached [an] explosive limit” and were then “ignited by a spark from the forcible entry attempts.”

Text by Jill Stewart

Photos by Ted Soqui

More photos after the jump.