Two people were killed Tuesday afternoon when a large cache of fireworks exploded at a house in Southern California, sparking a fire and sending a massive plume of smoke into the sky.
Ontario Fire Chief Ray Gayk said the fire department received multiple reports of explosions in a residential neighborhood around 12:30 p.m. When firefighters arrived on scene, the home was in flames amid a continuing series of large explosions, said Gayk, who described the fireworks as the type that would be used in a pyrotechnics display.
"It was very evident that we had a lot of commercial-grade fireworks that were going off," he told reporters during a press conference. "We don't know right now where they came from [or] what was going on in the house."
Officers evacuated residents in the immediate area, including individuals who were at the house where the fireworks were going off, Police Chief Mike Lorenz said. Two horses and a dog were also rescued from the area, officials said.
The people who died have not yet been identified, Gayk said, adding that it was not immediately clear what their connection to the blast was.
Horrifying videos on social media show fire erupting out of the house as fireworks pop off and a cloud of dark smoke billows high into the sky.
Fireworks are illegal in the city of Ontario, according to Lorenz, who told reporters that charges were possible. He added that the police department had previously received complaints about people setting off fireworks in the area but not about the specific house.
"Due to the large explosion, it would be at minimum investigating a felony or several felonies that would be involved," Lorenz said. "Depending on what cache of fireworks or explosive material they had in there, we’ll direct the investigation where it goes."
Gayk said the fire department's bomb squad was clearing the area to make sure there were no additional explosives in the house. He said it will probably take days to dispose of all the debris.