Los Angeles fire engines crash, and one rams Chinese restaurant
Associated Press in Monterey Park
Fifteen people were injured, including at least five firefighters, when two fire engines collided in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one careering across a footpath and into a Chinese restaurant.
One of the victims was in critical condition, officials said.
The crash on a busy commercial strip in Monterey Park on Wednesday left one engine embedded in the Lu Dumpling House, with shattered glass and rubble heaped on the footpath. Chairs and tables were scattered inside.
"There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking. I thought it was an earthquake," said Wendy Wu, a waitress who was in a walk-in freezer when the fire engine ploughed through the front of the restaurant.
When she walked out from the freezer, uninjured, she saw a refrigerator pushed across the room and furniture in disarray. Speaking through an interpreter, she said she saw several injured people bleeding and attempting to stand.
Waitress Vivian Lu arrived for her shift moments after the fire engine rammed the building.
She said she saw "a lot of people covered with blood", including a pedestrian with a mangled leg who had been knocked into the restaurant.
Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell said fire engines from his city and neighbouring Alhambra were responding to a house fire shortly after 3pm when they slammed into each other. One fire engine then ploughed into the restaurant, he said.
Rosa Saca, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County-USC Medical Centre, said nine victims were taken there, including the five firefighters.
She said the critically injured person was among the hospital's patients but was not one of the firefighters.
Erik Jiang, a spokesman for Garfield Medical Centre in Monterey Park, said six victims from the crash were being treated at the hospital. None was in critical condition, he added.
An investigation was under way to determine what caused the crash.