- Da Xiong Pan, the owner of a Los Angeles recycling facility which was engulfed in a three-alarm fire and burned for more than 30 hours this week, was previously charged with multiple felonies for improper storage and disposal of hazardous materials.
- His business, Panda International Trading Co., processed items such as household appliances and cathode ray tubes, but did not have proper the state permit.
- Authorities say Pan mitigated these previous issues and the fire's cause is still under investigation. The blaze was fueled by 10,000 pounds of magnesium and couldn't be extinguished using traditional methods such as water, sand or dirt.
The charges stem from a 2013 investigation by the California Environmental Protection Agency's Department of Toxic Substance Control which documented hazardous amounts of metal particulate being released onto a public sidewalk. Traces of copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, nickel and chromium were found.
Before the fire was finally put out on Wednesday it set off three explosions and forced about 300 residents to evacuate. Thick smoke spread for miles and the South Coast Air Quality Management District has since been conducting regular tests to ensure public safety. While many residents were allowed to return home by Thursday night, dozens are still displaced and the Red Cross is providing shelter.
This is one of multiple recent fires at recycling facilities and further highlights the need for safe material storage and proper prevention systems. A New Mexico scrap recycler caught fire for the 11th time in 10 years last month and a three-alarm fire broke out at a Washington facility this month after its sprinkler systems were damaged in a previous incident.