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Man Seriously Injured at Power Plant Demolition

Aug 5, 2013

The demolition of a Bakersfield, California power plant resulted in injuries to a number of onlookers, including serious injuries to one man and damage to nearby vehicles.

Several thousand people were watching the demolition when a large shard of debris flew off and struck a man, 43, severing one leg and mangling the other, according to The Los Angeles Times. The demolition took place at 6:00 a.m. Saturday.

The closed plant is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric and was once a steam-generated power plant, according to power company spokesman, Denny Boyles, and the police, the LA Times reported. The onlookers were standing behind the 1,000-foot safety perimeter erected by the Cleveland Wrecking Co., the demolition firm Pacific Gas and Electric hired, Boyles told the LA Times. Cleveland Wrecking brought in another explosives company and another sub-contractor to assist with the project, Boyles noted.

Explosive charges were positioned at significant points in the plant and were detonated in a pre-arranged pattern intended to implode and level the building. Immediately following the implosion, a police officer patrolling the demolition site heard a man screaming, according to Police Lieutenant Scott Tunnicliffe, who said the man lost part of a leg. Two other spectators suffered lacerations from flying metal pieces and some nearby vehicles sustained damage, the LA Times reported.

The seriously injured man was brought to an area hospital and later airlifted to Fresno for more treatment, said Tunnicliffe, who noted that the man’s condition remains unknown. "Our thoughts and prayers are with this man and the others who received injuries," Boyles said, according to the LA Times. "As a company, we are deeply saddened." Boyles noted that other parts of the plant had been torn down since the plant went out of use nearly 30 years ago. This demolition was meant to implode the two 140-foot tall remaining steel boiler towers that supported four 200,000-gallon tanks, said Boyles.

Bystander, Pat McNamara, told ABC News, "I figured we're about 350 yards away…. I didn't figure a piece of material would fly that far." McNamara said he was standing near the seriously injured man and was with a friend who attempted to help the man. "My friend came over to look at him, and he was going to put a tourniquet on him, and somebody said, 'Aw, he doesn't need a tourniquet,'" McNamara old ABC News.

"It was a piece of shrapnel that came flying out of the explosion and came across and went through a couple of chain link fences, struck him and impacted into a vehicle," said Lieutenant Tunnicliffe, according to ABC News. The man may lose his other leg, as well, Tunnicliffe said. A total of five spectators sustained injuries. Four other spectators were treated for minor injuries, said Fire engineer Leland Davis, according to the ABC News report.

All those injured were standing beyond the perimeter.

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