Shrapnel injures several after implosion at power plant – VIDEO
BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA – One man was seriously injured and others less so when a spectator-friendly implosion to demolish an old Pacific Gas & Electric steam power plant on Rosedale Highway Saturday went terrifyingly wrong, sending shrapnel into a group of onlookers.
Hundreds had gathered in the pre-dawn hours to witness the event. After it happened, cheers turned to screams as some in the crowd suffered bloody injuries.
At least three people were injured in the parking lot of Lowe’s on Coffee Road, including a man facing “one obvious amputation, possibly a second,” said Bakersfield Police Lt. Scott Tunnicliffe.
The man, not initially identified, was airlifted to a hospital in Fresno.
Noting that the perimeter of the scene was designated by members of the demolition company working on the project, police said an officer watched the 6 a.m. blast at the intersection of Jet Way and Coffee Road.
The officer ran to assist a 43-year-old man down after hearing screams for help, police said.
“The male victim suffered a traumatic partial amputation of one leg and major injuries to the other,” according to a BPD news release. “Two additional adults were struck by apparent shrapnel from the blast and sustained minor injuries. Vehicles parked in the area were also damaged.”
Authorities had closed off Coffee shortly after 5 a.m., but hundreds of people excited about watching the demolition of the Kern Power Plant at Coffee and Rosedale had assembled in the parking lot of Lowe’s and along the southern edge of the Northwest Promenade shopping center.
Several spectators were treated for serious and minor cuts at the southwest corner of the Lowe’s parking lot, where ambulances and fire trucks raced after the demolition.
The southbound and northbound lanes of Coffee between Rosedale and Brimhall Road as well as Jet Way at Coffee were closed to traffic, but some people rose early to reserve a viewing spot before access was cut off.
Some camped out overnight in their cars and brought lawn chairs to watch the empty, outdated plant go down.
Fred Garten, 49, was at Lowe’s standing near a bridge behind police barricades when a roughly four-foot-by-six-foot piece of metal flew toward him, grazing his right leg below the knee. His shorts and socks were splattered with blood.”