Blast near LA-area Jewish center was accidental - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Blast near LA-area Jewish center was accidental

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — An explosion shattered windows at a Jewish school and prayer house on Thursday and sent a pole into the roof of a house next door, prompting police to evacuate several blocks before experts determined that the blast was caused by an accident, not a bomb.

An explosion at about 6:45 a.m. sent an object into the roof of a building on 17th Street, police Sgt. Marty Fine said. No injuries were reported.

Televised reports showed firefighters pulling out about a 5-foot pole with its bottom encased in a plug of concrete.

The blast shattered windows next door at the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica.

"Some type of mechanical failure" caused the explosion, police Sgt. Jay Trisler told KABC-TV. "Something that built up pressure, and it blew up, and there was a post that was in the ground that caused a lot of damage."

Rabbi Eli Levitansky said he was conducting a Passover service for about 20 people when he heard a loud boom.

"We were just wondering what it was, there wasn't any panic," he said.

When police and fire crews showed up, everyone realized the situation was more serious and left the building but continued services on the street, the rabbi said.

"We were hopeful that it wasn't anything serious, that it was just a gas pipe or something," Levitansky said.

He did not know how much damage the Chabad House received.

Overall, about 100 people were evacuated from a four-block area for more than five hours while FBI and Los Angeles County sheriff's bomb experts investigated.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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