Garage used to store ammunition, harzadous materials catches fire, forcing evacuations

Two Glendale firefighters sustained minor injuries Thursday morning while responding to a fire in a residential garage that was used to store ammunition and hazardous materials, officials said.

The unknown nature of the chemicals, the explosions of fuel containers, and the fire setting off ammunition rounds at 6:21 a.m. in the 1100 block of North Isabel Street prompted authorities to evacuate six adjacent homes and six others on Jackson Street, Battalion Chief Vincent Rifino said.

Hazmat crews were called in along with Los Angeles County public health officials to clean up the controlled chemicals, for which the homeowner, a retired chemist, had a license to own, officials said.

The homeowner, Bob DeVoe, told fire crews he didn’t know what types of chemicals were inside his home or backyard because he had been collecting the substances for many years, Rifino said.

DeVoe was also a firearms enthusiast, Rifino added.

“We were dealing with an emergency of electrical with ammunitions, hazardous materials and flammable liquids,” he said.

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s bomb squad responded to secure any firearms and ammunition that remained after the blaze, Rifino said.

Utility workers also had to be called in to assess fire damage to two nearby power line poles damaged during the blaze.

“Our people did a great job,” Rifino said. “They were very aggressive in their tactics and extinguished it relatively quickly.”

The firefighters who were injured — one sustained a minor burn, the other strained muscles — were treated for the injuries and later released from nearby hospitals.

For his part, DeVoe denied being a chemist, or that he stored ammunition in the garage.

He said he was taking a shower when he heard a loud noise.

“I heard noises and what sounded like a sonic boom,” he said.

DeVoe’s friend, John Meyer, said the explosions were likely due to cans of paint stored in a locker. He also refuted assertions that DeVoe had ammunition in the garage.

By midday, fire crews had yet to launch an investigation into the cause of the fire because officials said they were still removing hazardous materials and ammunitions from the home.

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