Two people were killed and several others were injured Tuesday when a powerful explosion touched off by commercial grade fireworks ignited a fire that damaged several buildings and spread debris across a wide area in Ontario.
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Details about the identities of those killed were not immediately available, but the blast prompted an evacuation order for West Francis Street and West Maple Avenue between Fern and San Antonio. A temporary Care and Reception Center was set up at the De Anza Community Center, 1405 S. Fern.
Several animals, including a horse, were injured.
As investigators spent the afternoon searching the property to make sure nothing else exploded, witnesses reacted with fear.
"I thought it was an earthquake," said Erika Rodriguez. "It felt like 911."
The explosions were so powerful they broke out windows blocks away at a party store owned by owner Hector Capristo.
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"I feel so scared," he said.
Family members of the two victims who died rushed to the scene, some of them embracing their children relieved that they weren't hurt.
Emily Figueroa, who lives next door to the home where the explosions happened, said she thought it was gunfire.
"We just heard some loud boom and we were looking through our window because we thought they were shooting at first," Figueroa said. "When we looked out the window there were fireworks."
She and her family members were able to grab five of their six dogs while evacuating. Her mom twisted her ankle during the escape to safety. She said her windows and doors were broken and gas leaked and a car exploded.
Figueroa said she doesn't know who lives at the home. But she and other neighbors said that the people who live there would have set off fireworks in the past.
"When it was Fourth of July we heard fireworks going," she said. "We thought it was an annual thing. I didn't know they were loaded with fireworks."
Video posted on social media and from NewsChopper4 showed black smoke rising over the neighborhood and at least one house on fire.
Residents said the initial round of explosions sounded like the finale to a fireworks show. In one video, a loud blast can be heard as a thick smoke cloud rises above homes.
Popping sounds, possibly more fireworks, could be heard even as firefighters and police responded to the scene. City officials confirmed the explosion was caused by a large amount of fireworks that ignited at a home.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone was in the home at the time.
The residence was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Spot fires continued to burn at least an hour after the blast.
The extent of the damage was revealed as smoke cleared. A truck was on its side and the roof of at least one building was blown off. Another building's wall had collapsed.
One of the properties near the epicenter of the explosion appeared to have horse stables. Video showed firefighters rescuing a horse that was trapped in the debris.
Possession or use of fireworks in the city of Ontario is illegal and prohibited unless a permit is issued for use, transport or storage. Only state-licensed pyro technicians are issued permits.