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Electrical blast in downtown L.A. injures 4, knocks out power to 13 high-rises

Electrical blast in downtown L.A. injures 4, knocks out power to 13 high-rises
Smoke damage is visible on the exterior of a downtown building at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Flower Street, which was red-tagged after an underground electric generator exploded. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Four people were injured and a downtown office building was red-tagged by safety officials Thursday night after an explosion in a high-rise basement knocked out power in the area and sent smoke billowing into the street.

Officials said the explosion about 10:10 p.m. sent flames and smoke shooting through the basement of a 19-story building at 811 W. Wilshire Blvd., knocking out power to the surrounding area and interrupting a Shania Twain concert at Staples Center.

The high-rise and about a dozen nearby buildings remained without power as of 6 a.m. Friday, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said there was no estimate on when electrical service would be restored.

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The cause of the blast remained under investigation, but investigators said they believe an electrical generator in the basement was involved.

Four people sustained minor injuries but only two -- a woman who said she had a headache and a man who reported back pain -- went to the hospital, the Los Angeles Fire Department said early Friday.

More than 160 firefighters responded to the scene and quickly extinguished a blaze in the building. But as a result, the basement became flooded with water. Though the building is structurally sound, officials said, authorities red-tagged it until its electrical and fire-safety systems were back online.

Staff writer Abby Sewell contributed to this report.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna

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