Contractor killed on job identified

The Orange County coroner's office Tuesday identified the electrical worker killed in an underground vault in Huntington Harbour.

Brandon Orozco, 28, of Whittier, died Monday when electricity suddenly began flowing through the vault he was working on as part of a five-person crew and it caught on fire, according to authorities.

No other injuries were reported, Huntington Beach Fire Department Capt. Bob Culhane said Tuesday.

He said Orozco's body was removed from the area about 5:15 p.m. Monday and transported to the Orange County coroner's office.

Workers from CAM Contractors, hired by Southern California Edison, were in the vault at Tisbury Circle and Mistral Drive when the accident happened at 12:17 p.m. Monday, according to Jenelle Godges, Edison public affairs region manager.

After the fire was extinguished, rescue workers had to wait for Edison to cut off power before entering the vault.

First responders arrived at 12:24 p.m., and Huntington Beach fire, police and urban search and rescue as well as Anaheim Urban Search and Rescue were soon on the scene at Humboldt Island.

About 350 customers — all on the island — had been without power, according to Godges. She said power was restored to residents after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

John Friel, a 30-year resident of the area who recently retired from Edison, said it was tragic that a contractor was fatally injured inside the vault.

He and his wife received a notice from Edison telling them that their power would be out that day, and they planned to be away while the work was being done.

Friel came back from kayaking around the island about 12:30 p.m. to find fire trucks and safety personnel on his street. He called the entire incident "a nightmare."

"It must've been some kind of error because usually they're very thorough about pumping out the boxes and sniffing them [for gas] and pumping in fresh air before they'll even go into [a vault]," he said, choking back tears. "It's a shame. Edison takes great lengths to prevent this, but it happens."

Further down the street, 62-year-old resident Peter Bedford said it wasn't a typical power outage.

"It felt like a power surge, not like a regular shutdown," he said. "All the computers and fans didn't slowly go off. It went 'Pow!' It felt like a massive power surge."

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