Container Explodes Outside Port of Los Angeles

Smoke after the explosion (Christina Richardson / Twitter)

Published Apr 15, 2019 8:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday morning, a container exploded and burned during drayage outside the Port of Los Angeles, breaking nearby windows and sending up a plume of smoke.

The blast occurred near a warehouse at the west end of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which carries traffic to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It broke windows at the adjacent apartment complex, and several bystanders reported the forceful explosion on social media. "My entire building shook. Residents are on patios looking at the smoke," wrote journalist and local resident Kalaisha Totty in a Twitter post.

The container at the source of the blast was loaded with four vehicles, which were bound for export. A preliminary investigation by the Los Angeles Fire Department determined that the blast was an accidental explosion caused by a "flammable fuel/air mixture associated with the . . . vehicles being transported inside the large cargo container." When the tractor-trailer towing the container drove over a speed bump, the movement created an ignition source and the vapor inside the box ignited, causing the blast. 

The driver was assessed by L.A. Fire Department paramedics. He was uninjured and declined to go to a hospital for evaluation. 

Last October, a container filled with scrap exploded at the Evergreen Container Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles, on the opposite side of the bridge. The authorities determined that the blast was likely an industrial accident caused by substances mixed in with the scrap.