L.A. Blaze Showers Firefighters With Molten Titanium

LOS ANGELES -- An explosion and fire tore through six South Los Angeles buildings, spattering firefighters with molten bits of titanium and leaving a tangled mass of burning metal, authorities said Wednesday.

Two firefighters received minor injuries.

The blaze on east Slauson Avenue was reported at 11:43 p.m. Tuesday. At its peak, about 220 firefighters were fighting the blaze, fire department spokesman Cecil Manresa said.

The fire collapsed some walls and the roof and sections of the six buildings continued to smolder early Wednesday.

At one point, a huge blast showered firefighters and engines with burning titanium, Battalion Chief Mario Rueda said.

"As a result of these explosions, titanium chips dispersed over the neighborhood," Rueda said. "Large chunks of concrete impacted some of our apparatus and the concussive effect knocked out some of our (vehicle) windows."

Nearby palm trees exploded in flames.

A firefighter and a fire captain were treated for hand burns and ringing in their ears from explosions, Manresa said. They were not seriously injured.

The presence of the flammable metal made it hard to battle the fire because using water increases flames in titanium, fire department spokeswoman Tina Harro said.

"When you put water on it, it tends to bring the fire out more," she said.

She said firefighters surrounded areas that were still burning to make sure the blaze didn't spread.

"Eventually it will burn itself out," she said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation.