LOS ANGELES -- A tanker truck leaking gasoline caught fire and caused an explosion that injured two people and sent up a huge plume visible across Los Angeles on Sunday, authorities said.
The blast reverberated through storm drains and sent manhole covers into the air, fire department officials said.
"There was a big explosion — we thought it was an earthquake," resident Joseph Casillas told the Los Angeles Times . "There was a fireball and a tornado of fire."
Crews responding to reports of a gas smell found the tanker fully engulfed and then were forced back by the force of the blast, officials said. Dozens of firefighters took nearly two hours to douse the stubborn blaze in a neighborhood about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of downtown Los Angeles. Thick, black smoke snaked into the sky and eventually blew out to sea.
Two people were hospitalized, one with injuries described as serious. The other victim suffered minor injuries, fire officials said.
The flames burned a two-story home and displaced a family, authorities said.
The smoldering tank, which was in a storage yard, lay on its side with one end blown wide open. Officials didn't immediately know how much gas was originally inside the tank, which could hold up to 9,000 gallons (34,000 liters).
The leak and subsequent explosion are under investigation.