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Firefighters suing over natural-gas powered commercial vehicle explosion

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Firefighters injured in an explosion caused by compressed natural gas fueling a burning semi truck are filing a lawsuit against multiple parties for the incident. 

The incident occurred in February of this year just before 7 a.m. at 1120 N. Alameda Street near Henry Ford Avenue in Los Angeles, California in an industrial area near the Port of Los Angeles and west of Long Beach. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Firefighters were called to the scene when the truck caught fire and approached the fire as they would any incident involving a commercial vehicle on fire. Within minutes, the semi truck exploded, injuring nine firefighters, including two critically. 

Investigation of the incident revealed that the commercial vehicle was powered by compressed natural gas stored in tanks on the truck, which led to the massive explosion. 911 responders and firefighters were not notified of the natural gas tanks by the truck driver, and the tanks storing the gas did not show any written warnings or indications of the potential danger. 

Seven of the firefighters involved in the response to the fire filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court last week. The lawsuit alleges that the compressed natural gas was stored in a tank with both design defects and warning defects, making them “unsafe and dangerous for use by the consumer.” The lawsuit names Hexagon Agility, Daimler Truck North America, the trucking company, and the truck driver, Shania Janea Sutton. The suit claims that the firefighters “were hurt and physically injured, sustaining medical bills, loss of earnings/earnings capacity, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and other damages, and will continue to sustain such damages in the future.”

“It is unacceptably dangerous that a truck running on compressed natural gas can fail like this, exploding in the middle of a city street like a bomb as opposed to releasing pressure safely,” said attorney Matthew McNicholas, who is representing the firefighters. “This would not have occurred had the product not had hidden defects preventing the safe release of pressure.”

Daimler says it does not comment on pending litigation, and Hexagon Agility did not respond to requests for comment by the Los Angeles Times.

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