Smoke billows from the plastics warehouse fire in Maywood. Courtesy Los Angeles County Fire Department
Smoke billows from the plastics warehouse fire in Maywood. Courtesy Los Angeles County Fire Department

“Significant accomplishments” were made over the July 4 weekend in cleanup operations of hazardous materials released by a spectacular fire at a Maywood warehouse, officials said.

The three-alarm fire on June 14 gutted the warehouse in the 3500 block of Fruitland Avenue that housed Gemini Plastic Enterprises, authorities said Tuesday.

Magnesium, copper, zinc and lead were among the explosive materials present at the business, along with chemicals and propane, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said.

The fire sparked a series of strong explosions that sent a thick plume of noxious smoke over the region and resulted in evacuations.

In the aftermath of the blaze, a unified command was established that includes personnel from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division.

“Since June 30, 16 households were moved from their previous temporary accommodations to new hotels/motels,” according to a joint command statement.

“All displaced households were offered free public transportation cards, food and water provided by the Food Center, Tzu Chi Water Company and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office. Further, the Los Angeles Dodgers donated free tickets to an upcoming baseball game to all displaced residents.”

The first residence for re-occupation was approved on Saturday by the Department of Public Health and Unified Command.

“The returning household was greeted by representatives from the city of Maywood, LA County Fire Department, DPH and EPA,” officials said.

“Residents were provided a ‘Welcome Home’ gift basket by (the city) in celebration of their re-occupancy.”

Four more residences were approved for re-occupation on Sunday, the same day that all outdoor cleanups were completed and 14 of the properties were signed off by cleanup and assessment teams.

Four more residences were approved for re-occupation this morning and it’s anticipated that eight more will be cleared in the next two days.

According to the Unified Command:

— 37 households have been temporarily relocated, including four on the south side of East 52nd Street;

— 172 people remain temporarily relocated;

— all outdoor soil sampling, which was conducted at 24 parcels, including seven parcels on the south side of East 52nd Street, has been completed;

— outdoor cleanup is nearly complete on three parcels not yet cleared for reoccupation;

— all indoor sampling has been completed;

— nine residences have been identified as requiring indoor cleaning, and all have been cleaned up, but officials are awaiting verification sampling results to return before clearing the homes for re-occupancy.

Authorities opened a Community Information Center last week for residents and businesses affected by the fire.

The center, at the corner of Everett Avenue and East 52nd Street in Maywood, is open daily and can be reached by calling (323) 267-3843. More information is available at publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/fire.

—City News Service

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