Spectators Seriously Injured in PG&E Demolition

Two spectators hurt after Bakersfield demolition. Autumn Parry for the Bakersfield Californian.
Two spectators hurt after Bakersfield demolition. Autumn Parry for the Bakersfield Californian.

Two spectators hurt after Bakersfield demolition. Autumn Parry for the Bakersfield Californian.

Two spectators were seriously injured, and others sustained minor injuries, during a demolition conducted on an old Pacific Gas & Electric plant. Vehicles were also damaged in the demolition witnessed by several thousand spectators.

The incident occurred during a planned demolition of an inoperable steam power plant. Spectators were viewing the scene from a safety perimeter set up by the company contracted to do the work.

In the moments after the structure fell, a police officer patrolling the event heard a man screaming. Pieces of metal ejected from inside the plant during the implosion had struck a 43-year-old man, severing part of one leg, and seriously injured another spectator, Bakersfield Police Lt. Scott Tunnicliffe said.

At least two other people suffered minor lacerations from metal pieces. Vehicles parked nearby were hit as well.

The seriously injured man was transported to a nearby hospital and later flown by helicopter to Fresno for further treatment, said Tunnicliffe, who added that the man’s condition was not known.

Police recovered one piece of metal that was about half a foot long and weighed a few pounds, Tunnicliffe said. The fragment that injured the man had been taken by a spectator, he said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with this man and the others who received injuries,” Boyles said. “As a company we are deeply saddened.”

After the company tore down other parts of the plant, which had been out of use since 1986, the decision was made to implode two remaining steel boiler towers that stood 140 feet tall, Boyles said.

Pacific Gas hired Cleveland Wrecking Co. to handle the demolition, Boyles said, and that company brought in an explosives company and another subcontractor to assist with the job. Los Angeles Times, 3 August 2013. 

It is not clear how the safety perimeter, set at 1,000 feet in diameter, was determined, or what the appropriate distance should have been.