Environment & Science

DWP and SoCal Gas say they don't know what caused South LA blast


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Two days after an explosion in an underground electrical vault rocked a South L.A. neighborhood, neither the area's power nor gas utilities could identify a cause of the blast, and neither has so far said they were responsible.

The Department of Water and Power vault exploded near 63rd Street and Brynhurst Avenue and sent manhole covers flying, damaging a few cars.

DWP officials say they so far have no cause for the explosion. They say no mechanical malfunction occurred in the utility's equipment to cause the explosion, and power to the area was not disrupted.

DWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo said some repair to the vault would be necessary, though. 

For its part, Southern California Gas Company said it found no natural gas at the explosion site.

But it did find a higher-than-normal level of natural gas at a second electrical vault two blocks south of the blast site.  But spokesman Chris Gilbride said the gas was not necessarily from one of the company's distribution lines. 

"I don't know if this is natural gas from our distribution system or not," Gilbride said.  The company found no leak in its gas distribution lines in the area, he said.

The company tested the soil around the second vault and near its own gas line that runs on the opposite side of the street from the vault but did not locate any leak, Gilbride said.

Fire Department officials said it was not immediately clear where the gas came from, said LAFD Capt. Branden Silverman.  Fire Department personnel dispatched to monitor the explosion site Thursday left later that night because no public risk remained, Silverman said.