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Man faces federal charges after explosion in neighborhood

The investigation has no definitive timeline, but will continue over the Fourth of July holiday weekend and at least into early next week.
Credit: ATF/United States Attorney's Office Central District of California via AP
This July 2021 photo released by the ATF/United States Attorney's Office Central District of California, shows boxes of illegal large homemade fireworks explosives in South Los Angeles. Authorities found over 500 boxes of commercial grade fireworks in large cardboard boxes. A 27-year-old man was charged Saturday, July 3, 2021 with illegally transporting tons of explosives he purchased in Nevada — including several that left a trail of destruction and injuries after they blew up in a Los Angeles neighborhood. Arturo Ceja III faces the federal charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — A 26-year-old man was arrested for the fireworks that caused that massive explosion that rocked a South Los Angeles neighborhood, authorities said Saturday.

Arturo Ceja was arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of reckless or malicious possession of a destructive device around 1:25 p.m. on Wednesday, according to jail records and the LAPD. He was released on $500,000 bail the following morning.

Jail records indicate he is scheduled to head to court in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 27.

Arson and explosives investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives intend to accurately map the scene of the explosion caused after the LAPD attempted to safely detonate a cache of illegal fireworks.

"What we are trying to do at this point to support getting folks back into their residences is to shrink the footprint of the actual scene," said Michael Hoffman, the ATF's assistant special officer in charge.

The investigation has no definitive timeline, but will continue over the Fourth of July holiday weekend and at least into early next week, Hoffman said.

The evacuation area is Adams Boulevard to 28th Street and San Pedro Street to Stanford Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Information on resources available to residents and businesses affected by the explosion has been posted on the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department website, emergency.lacity.org.

"We realize that this situation is still under investigation, and once residents are able to reassess and occupy their homes and business, we'll be able to provide more services to them," said Carol Parks, the department's assistant general manager.

A total of 17 people, including 10 law enforcement officers, were injured in Wednesday's blast. Several homes were damaged as well, with the damage extending at least a half-block from the site.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health was identifying accommodations to support medical needs and social services for those who had to be evacuated.

Officials said an effort was also underway to assist an elderly couple who remained at the site by choice.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has directed the LAPD "to conduct a full investigation into this incident, so we can better understand why this happened."

WATCH RELATED: San Diego sheriffs warn against handling fireworks ahead of Fourth of July weekend (July 2021)

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