'Everything Blew Up': Massive Fireworks Explosion Leaves Families Facing Uncertainty

Residents of a Los Angeles street whose homes were damaged after police detonated thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks are still wondering when their lives will return to normal.

The Los Angeles Police Department exploded 32,000 pounds of fireworks found in more than 500 boxes on East 27th Street on June 30, injuring 17 police officers and civilians and damaging properties in the process.

The decision to detonate the fireworks was made after the LAPD bomb squad determined that some of the homemade fireworks seized contained explosive materials that were not safe to transport.

While the team was attempting to detonate the fireworks safely, the total containment vessel also exploded—vastly increasing the blast radius.

Winston Cantarero is one of the people who was displaced from his home, along with his wife and four children.

As well as his apartment, the Mexicali Meat Market where he works was damaged in the blast. As a result, Cantarero has not been able to earn money since June 30.

In order to help his family, Cantarero had set up a GoFundMe page, which has so far raised more than $6,000.

Cantarero told Newsweek he and his family had been able to return home, although the damage has not been fully repaired and he is still unsure when he will be able to go back to work.

"We are at home already. We are just waiting for our window to get fixed," he said. "About my job, I think they are opening by Friday, but not sure."

He had previously told Spectrum News that when he was working he and his family were living "week by week" as they don't have savings.

Cantarero said his young children, including a 9-month-old baby, were left traumatized by the explosion that shattered their windows.

"They couldn't sleep too. It was very scary," he said.

Cantarero said he had received some help from the Trinity Recreation Center, a local assistance hub that opened on July 4 for people affected by the blast.

Maria Velasquez also turned to the Trinity Recreation Center for help after her home was damaged.

"In a matter of seconds, everything blew up," Velasquez told the Los Angeles Times. "It was horrible."

Velasquez said she was allowed to return to her home briefly in order to retrieve her daughter's laptop for school and her diabetes medication.

Describing the damage she saw, she said: "There was glass on my sofa, on my living room, my dining room table, everything.

"In my daughter's little room, where she sleeps, her window came off with the whole railing and all."

Velasquez said she and her daughter were currently staying at her sister's home, but it was too small for them to remain.

Mike Castillo, director of business development for Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr, said he had been translating for displaced people at the center so they can get shelter or a hotel room.

"There have been buildings that were red-tagged. There have been buildings that were yellow-tagged and so it's really difficult to say the conditions that they're all in because it's still an active [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] investigation site," Castillo told Spectrum News.

"Once they release the scene, I'm pretty sure residents will have a better idea as to the conditions of properties.

Arturo Ceja III was arrested by agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on July 3. He has been charged with illegally transporting explosives from Nevada.

Newsweek has contacted the LAPD for comment.

LA fireworks
File photo of fireworks in a storage room waiting to be sold on November 13, 2020, in Gravenzande, Netherlands. A Los Angeles family has set up a GoFundMe page after their home was damaged when police detonated 32,000 pounds of illegal fireworks on their street. Niels Wenstedt/BSR Agency/Getty Images