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SANTA MONICA : 3 Workers Injured as Electrical Blast Cuts Power to 320 Homes

An underground electrical explosion injured three Southern California Edison workers and knocked out power to several hundred Santa Monica residents last week.

The repairmen were replacing a street light transformer in an underground vault at Broadway near 20th Street when a 16,000-volt conduit apparently short-circuited and caused the explosion at 6:24 p.m. Wednesday, Edison area manager Mark Olson said.

Two workers were in the vault at the time of the explosion and were taken to St. John’s Medical Center. One man reportedly suffered smoke inhalation and was released Thursday. The other sustained smoke inhalation and first- and second-degree burns to his arms and face. He may be transferred to Sherman Oaks Burn Center, a St. John’s spokeswoman said.

A third worker, who was on the street at the time of the explosion, sustained first- and second-degree burns on his arms and around his eyes. He was taken to Santa Monica Hospital and was treated and released, a hospital spokesman said.

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Olson said the high-voltage blast sent sparks and smoke billowing from the manhole.

The blast cut power to 320 nearby houses. Most customers had power restored by 7:03 p.m., but six customers close to the site had to wait until after 2 a.m. Thursday for electricity.

Olson called the incident unusual and said the cause of the conduit failure is being investigated by Edison. He said the repairmen had were not working in the immediate area of the high-voltage street light conduit at the time of the explosion.


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