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At least 15 hurt when firetrucks collide in Monterey Park

FiresHighway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersDisasters and AccidentsLos Angeles County-USC Medical Center

At least 15 people, including six firefighters, were injured Wednesday afternoon when two firetrucks collided in Monterey Park, causing one to smash into a small restaurant.

Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell said no fatalities were reported. The injuries ranged from minor to at least one critical. The injured firefighters are equally split between Birrell's department and the Alhambra Fire Department.

He said both agencies were responding to a house fire in Monterey Park when the collision occurred shortly after 3 p.m. at the intersection of Garfield and Emerson avenues. Both trucks had their lights and sirens on.

Officials said the crash sent the Monterey Park Fire truck into the restaurant, Lu's Dumpling House.

At least 11 employees — one of whom was hospitalized — and four customers were inside when the truck broke into the building, according to the restaurant's owner.

Christina Lee, who works at Monterey Park Florist across from the restaurant, said she was helping customers when they heard a loud boom.

"All of the customers ran outside," she said. "It was really bad. I hope everyone is OK."

Some of the crash victims were taken to area hospitals.

Erik Jiang, a spokesman for Garfield Medical Center, which is about 100 yards from the crash site, said six patients were brought into that hospital.

"None of them are classified as critical," Jiang said.

At least nine people, including five firefighters, were taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. One of those patients was listed in critical condition.

The California Highway Patrol's major accident team will lead the investigation into the crash. Officials said they would review everything from the speed of the trucks to radio traffic.

Monterey Park fire officials said their firefighters wear headsets that allow them to communicate with dispatchers and other first responders, but it was difficult to say if the firefighters would have been able to hear the other truck's sirens.

"This is the first time I've witnessed an accident like this," Birrell said.

Alhambra Fire Chief Bill Walker said it wasn't unusual for his department and Monterey Park's to respond to the same calls. He said his firefighters involved in the crash range in experience from one year to more than 20 years.

Officials said the investigation would last through the evening, and the truck would not be removed from the restaurant until it was deemed safe.

"Nothing moves until the investigation is complete," Walker said.

alicia.banks@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ruben Vives contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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