Trash truck erupts in flames, chars parked cars in Los Angeles neighborhood

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A massive fire inside of a city trash truck charred several parked cars and spread thick plumes of smoke across a residential street in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pico-Union Monday.  

Crews with the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the 1700 block of Westmoreland Avenue at around 2:15 p.m. on reports of the blaze and that it had spread to other vehicles.  

“It did look like a movie because they do movies on this block,” a man who lives on the street to KTLA’s Sara Welch. “I was like, ‘Oh, they’re shooting a film,’ because they had it closed down all the way from there.”

Video footage of the fire obtained by KTLA showed flames coming from what appeared to be the bottom rear of the trash truck, while just feet away on the curb, flames could be seen beneath three parked cars.  

A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (viewer photo)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Aliysa S.)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Aliysa S.)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Aliysa S.)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Aliysa S.)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Aliysa S.)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Citizen)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Kelton Green)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (Kelton Green)A trash truck and parked cars seen in flames on a street in L.A. Pico-Union neighborhood on May 13, 2024. (viewer photo)

As the fire continued, crackling and popping could be heard coming from the truck.

“I stepped outside from the balcony and I saw the garbage truck was engulfed in flames,” Alex De Leon told KTLA.

He said he ran toward his Lexus and quickly realized it was too late to get his car out of the fast-moving blaze.

“You’re not thinking in that moment and I kind of stopped right there,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, he’s right, it’s going to explode right next to me, so I just ran back inside.”

Firefighters were able to quickly douse the flames with water and foam, but at least six parked vehicles caught fire, several of which appear to be a total loss.

“My Volkswagen Sport Wagon and my Smart Car are both total losses,” Kelton Green said.

Green added that first responders said it may have been an electrical fire inside the truck but that it’s unclear why the fire spread so quickly on the street.

“I’m more concerned about all the smoke damage and all the foam on this street,” he said. “They didn’t do a great job of cleaning up.”

With nothing to salvage and now no car to get around, Green and others are hoping the city acts quickly to get them reimbursed for their losses.

“I’m hoping it’ll get resolved really soon,” Green said.

People living on the street said they are urging the city to return tomorrow and clean up the fire retardant foam used by firefighters that covering much of the street.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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