ShareThis Page
World

California building explosion investigated as intentional

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 2:39 p.m.
This image taken from cellphone video shows a building after a fatal explosion in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The cause of the blast is being investigated.
Raul Hernandez/AP
This image taken from cellphone video shows a building after a fatal explosion in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The cause of the blast is being investigated.
Orange County first responders investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo, Calif., on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The blast involved a building under renovation but the cause was not immediately known, according to authorities.
Mindy Schauer/AP
Orange County first responders investigate the scene of an explosion in Aliso Viejo, Calif., on Tuesday, May 15, 2018. The blast involved a building under renovation but the cause was not immediately known, according to authorities.

LOS ANGELES — An explosive package targeted an office in a Southern California medical building, causing a blast that left a woman dead and three other people injured, two officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The explosion happened around 1 p.m. Tuesday in Aliso Viejo, about 50 miles south of Los Angeles. The blast blew siding off the walls, exposing insulation and framing and shattering windows at the two-story building that houses medical offices.

The two officials said the explosion appeared to be an intentional act caused by a package that specifically targeted the office where the blast occurred.

A woman was killed and three other people were injured in the explosion. One of the officials said one of those people was believed to be the target.

The officials were briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Orange County sheriff's officials said late Tuesday night that the size of the blast made it suspicious but they had not yet located an explosive device and were searching through debris.

"The corner of that building, the whole bottom floor is pretty much blown out," said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said of the scene.

Bomb technicians and investigators from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives remained at the scene Wednesday, said Orange County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carrie Braun.

The woman who was killed inside the building was "in close proximity" to the explosion, sheriff's Cmdr. Dave Sawyer said. The three people who were injured were nearby and were being questioned by investigators late Tuesday night, he said.

"Anytime you see an explosion of this magnitude, it would definitely be suspicious to us," Sawyer said.

Authorities were not searching for any specific suspects Tuesday night, but the investigation was ongoing, he said.

Mary McWilliams told the Orange County Register that she arrived for an appointment to find smoke in the area and car alarms going off.

She said she saw two burned women staggering out of the building, covered in ash and soot.

One woman, who had skin peeling on her arm from burns, said, "Take care of my mother," McWilliams said. The other woman was bleeding from her head.

Fire officials said a third person suffered smoke inhalation.

A daycare center and preschool across the street was evacuated. Some children held hands as they were led out by firefighters while sheriff's deputies rolled out babies in cribs.

"When I was playing outside I heard the big crash, I thought it was a garbage truck but it was a building that smashed," 6-year-old Kingston Dik told KNBC-TV.

No children were hurt.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me