A downtown building was red-tagged after an underground electric generator exploded, rupturing pipes, causing some flooding, and injuring a handful of people,. Photo via OnScene.TV

Power was restored to 12 downtown buildings Friday, hours after an underground electric generator exploded in another building, rupturing pipes, causing some flooding and injuring a handful of people, authorities said.

Two people were hospitalized and two others suffered minor injuries from the explosion, which occurred at 811 Wilshire Blvd. at 10:17 p.m. Thursday, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The high-rise where the blast occurred remained without power, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which reported that the building had been red-tagged after the explosion. The red tag designation means the building cannot be occupied.

A representative of Los Angeles-based Jamison Services, the commercial office building’s landlord, said it is not believed that the building sustained significant structural damage, but private contractors and engineers are working with city building inspectors to make sure the 19-story structure can be safely occupied.

The building houses a mix of large and small commercial tenants, Bruce Beck of Jamison Services told City News Service.

Building inspectors red-tagged the structure because the explosion made its electrical and fire-safety systems inoperable, Humphrey said, even though “we are told the building is structurally sound.”

Joseph Ramallo of the DWP said 12 other buildings in the area, near the intersection of Wilshire and Flower Avenue, also lost power. Electricity to those buildings was restored this afternoon, Ramallo announced at about 4:30 p.m.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation,” Ramallo said.

Beck said reports that the blast occurred in a basement generator that provides power to the building were untrue, because the building’s power generator is atop a parking structure across an alley from the building.

According to Ramallo, inspections “have indicated extensive damage to LADWP’s on-site industrial power station.”

One of the affected buildings houses the Los Angeles Community College District Office at 770 Wilshire Blvd., and that office was closed and its website was down, said district Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez. However, the nine colleges remained open, and their websites were operational, he said.

DWP staff were at the scene to assess the damage, which included the pooling of a large volume of water on the building’s first sub-level as a result of ruptured pipes, Humphrey said.

Firefighters helped evacuate some occupants from the building, but no rescues were needed, Humphrey said.

A man and a woman were hospitalized for back pain and a headache, Humphrey said. Two other injured parties were examined at the scene but declined treatment, Humphrey said.

The explosion caused a momentary power outage at Staples Center, where a Shania Twain concert was underway, according to officials at the venue.

There was a fire at 811 Wilshire that was quickly put out by firefighters, Beck said.

The 119,000-square-foot building was largely unoccupied due to the time of the blast, he said.

Jamison Services is the second largest landlord in Los Angeles, according to Beck, who said the company owns 18 million square feet in downtown Los Angeles and Koreatown.

Most of the firm’s portfolio consists of commercial office buildings, along with some multi-family buildings, Beck said.

— City News Service

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