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Man connected to fireworks explosion sentenced to 5 months in prison

<i>KCAL</i><br/>The Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad blew up the illegal fireworks
The Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad blew up the illegal fireworks

By KCAL Staff

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    LOS ANGELES (KCAL) — Nearly a year and a half later the explosion, the strip in South L.A. has turned into a ghost town with streets still blocked off, homes still boarded up and a single police car providing security for those that still remain.

“It started to look like a warzone,” said resident Gregory Topete.

Most of Topete’s neighbors have left and never returned.

“They’re all in hotels, those people are in hotels, nice hotels,” he said. “But at the same time, I think they want to come back home.”

Luckily, his home was relatively spared but his neighbors were not as lucky with the blast damaging dozens of homes.

“Basically all our windows shattered, our door frame busted and it took a while [for] all [of it] to get replaced,” Topete said.

A contractor repaired his home, replacing his door and windows, however, many of his neighbors were forced to pay and do their own repairs.

“Took them a while,” Topete said. “Took them a long, long time.”

The city spent millions of dollars to relocate some families, repair sidewalks and renovate homes. Some of the most severely impacted households received $10,000.

Arturo Ceja III, 27, was the resident hoping to sell the fireworks that led to a disastrous explosion in South Los Angeles has been sentenced to five months in prison. Additionally, Ceja will be under probation for two additional years but will not have to pay any fines or institutions.

“We’re trying to move on a little bit,” said resident Jovana Martinez. “But she’s also saying like it’s not really fair that he only gets like five months of sentencing.”

Despite Ceja being held responsible for bringing all of these fireworks into this neighborhood the majority of the blame has been placed on the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad.

“If it’s the bomb squad’s job, I think they did a terrible job of not knowing how much weight was put in there,” said Topete.

However, over a year later there is still a sliver of silver lining.

“The only good thing that I can think of is less traffic,” said Topete. “It’s just been really quiet. It’s just quiet.”

Following the disastrous blast, LAPD changed its protocols for disposing of explosives. They have now designated low-density or population-free sites for future detonations. Additionally, they requested the manufacturer of that large containment vehicle to clarify the capacity guidelines.

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