By Katie Nielsen

OAKLAND (KPIX) — Investigators in Los Angeles are still trying to understand what caused the catastrophic failure of an LAPD bomb trailer on Wednesday while crews were trying to detonate homemade and illegal fireworks. The blast injured 17 people, destroyed the bomb trailer and damaged nearby homes and cars.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has three bomb trailers: one designed to handle five pounds of explosives like a hand grenade or a few sticks of dynamite, one that could contain 10 pounds of explosives and another designed to contain 40 pounds of explosives.

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“When you’re dealing with explosives and bombs, it’s dangerous work,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have people that are at home making fireworks, cardboard tubes, packed with powders. Sometimes they up it to the next level and begin to make high explosives,” Sgt. Kelly added.

Those homemade fireworks are sometimes too dangerous and unstable for bomb techs to try to transport to the bomb range so that’s when they bring in a self-contained vessel. It’s a large sphere made of reinforced steel and lead — basically a portable bomb range — to withstand a detonation on site.

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“This one here. It’s designed to contain a blast,” said Sgt. Kelly as he pointed into the chamber.

When dealing with homemade fireworks and explosives, the bomb techs don’t know exactly what chemicals are inside and, in turn, don’t know how powerful they can be.

“What we saw in Los Angeles with what happened — that’s just an example of the unpredictability of it all,” Sgt. Kelly said.

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He said that the Alameda County bomb squad will be coordinating with the investigators in Los Angeles to fully understand what led to the bomb-trailer failure there to ensure something similar doesn’t happen here.