Cannabis warehouse that burned in massive fire was never inspected

LA fire chief called it “oversight” and “mistake”; May blaze in Little Tokyo injured 11 firefighters

Los Angeles /
Sep.September 15, 2020 09:00 AM
Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and the fire (Credit: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and the fire (Credit: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A cannabis products warehouse that burned down in a massive fire in May never received a fire department inspection.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas acknowledged the department had no record of inspecting the property, Smoke Tokes at 309 San Pedro Street in Little Tokyo, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The blaze engulfed the warehouse, injuring 11 firefighters.

Terrazas said an inspection likely would have led to the seizure of flammable materials, which it was determined contributed to the fire, the Times reported. He said the building should have been inspected annually.

The department has in the past fallen behind on building inspections that are considered at high risk of loss of life in a fire, according to the Times. It hired inspectors in 2015 following reports of widespread overdue inspections.

Firefighters found large quantities of butane and nitrous oxide in the Smoke Toke building, and Terrazas said that the property was “obviously overstocked.” Police have called that area “Bong Row” because businesses there are primarily cannabis-related.

The nearest firehouse, Station No. 9 in Skid Row, is among the busiest in the country, logging more than 22,000 calls last year, according to the report. That’s an average of 60 calls per day.

The L.A. city attorney’s office filed more than 300 criminal charges last month against the building owner, Steve Sungho Lee, and three other businesses in the area.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were also involved in the investigation. [LAT]Dennis Lynch


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