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Contractor killed in electrical vault fire in Huntington Beach

Something went terribly wrong while electrical workers were on site in Huntington Beach Tuesday. Many details about what happened are not yet known, but a contractor was killed in a worksite accident. The horrific incident raises many questions about safety at the site as authorities still do not know exactly what led to the fatal incident.

A fire erupted in an underground electrical vault Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say that an explosion may also have been involved in the industrial accident. One worker, who was among a crew of five at the site who work for a contractor for Southern California Edison, was inside the vault when the blaze erupted. Authorities say that the worker was trapped in the vault during the blaze. Heavy smoke billowed from the street above the vault when emergency responders arrived.

Fire crews from both Huntington Beach and Anaheim were called to the scene on Tisdale Circle in Huntington Beach. Firefighters extinguished the blaze from above the vault through a street opening. Crews had to ensure that the electricity was cut off before rescue teams could enter the vault.

Once the emergency responders had control of the fire and verified that the electricity was off, firefighters removed the body of the accident victim from the underground vault.

Officials say that the fatal accident victim worked for a contractor that had sent the five member crew to perform work in the Southern California Edison underground vault. It is not clear what tasks the team was performing, but authorities say that the work was to be done during a planned five hour outage at the site. Authorities are still trying to determine of an explosion occurred before the fire broke out, or whether the cause of the fire was an electrical arc.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and health was notified of the fatal worksite accident and an investigator from Cal-OSHA will be working with the contractor, the utility, union officials and electricians in investigating the tragedy.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, “Huntington Beach: Edison contractor killed in possible electrical vault explosion,” Oct. 1, 2013

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