A worker who was trapped underground when an electrical vault exploded in a Huntington Beach neighborhood Monday has died, authorities reported.
Emergency crews had worked since shortly after noon to reach the worker, but their progress was hampered by a fire that burned for nearly an hour, said Capt. Bob Culhane of the Huntington Beach Fire Department.
The recovery effort was also complicated by concerns over the air quality in the vault, fire authorities said.
Firefighters said they were unable to communicate with the worker during the rescue operation. The worker was part of a contract crew working for Southern California Edison.
Janelle Godges, a spokeswoman for Southern California Edison, said the contractor and a crew were performing scheduled maintenance near Mistral Drive and Tisbury Circle in the Huntington Harbour neighborhood when the incident occurred.
The blaze in the underground vault was reported shortly after noon Monday, but firefighters were not able to immediately begin fighting it because the vault remained energized, Culhane said.
“SCE extends condolences to the contractor’s family, friends and co-workers,” the utility said in a statement.