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5 hurt in electrical vault blasts in California

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Emergency personnel respond to utility pole explosions where multiple people were injured at the Old World Village on Saturday in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It was just like one giant fireball that went up” Megan Houck, 26, of Long Beach, Calif., said after an explosion occurred at the shopping and dining complex.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Emergency personnel respond to utility pole explosions where multiple people were injured at the Old World Village on Saturday in Huntington Beach, Calif. “It was just like one giant fireball that went up” Megan Houck, 26, of Long Beach, Calif., said after an explosion occurred at the shopping and dining complex.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. >> Authorities say five people were hurt in a series of electrical vault explosions during an Oktoberfest celebration in Southern California.

The Los Angeles Times and KTLA TV reported that two firefighters and two civilians were treated for injuries described as minor, according to Huntington Beach Fire Department officials.

The blasts Saturday night caused chaos as hundreds gathered for the annual event at Old World Village in Huntington Beach.

Firefighters were called to the scene for a reported electrical fire. The Long Beach Press Telegram reported the initial blast splattered heated mineral oil used to cool multiple transformers — and possibly ignited subsequent explosions.

While a heavy presence of fire and police personnel tended to the injured, hundreds of others attending an Oktoberfest event evacuated the area. Power appeared to have been shut off to the complex, the newspaper reported.

Witness Kyle Nelson told KTLA that he heard and saw three large explosions in rapid succession coming from the festival.

Megan Houck, 26, of Long Beach, said that she saw flames come from the floor near a patio area.

“It was just like one giant fireball that went up” she said in a story on the Press-Telegram website. “And then there was a second explosion maybe 10 or 20 seconds later.”

Houck said that the flames went well above the roof of the village, possibly up to 35 to 40 feet high.

A few minutes before the first explosion, Houck said that the lights had shut off and on. Other witnesses reported apparent electrical problems before the first blast.

Pat Brassil, 27, told the Times that he was outside one of the tent’s at the Oktoberfest site waiting for his fiance and sister to return from the bathroom when he saw flames shoot out from another tent near the festival’s entrance.

“It just lit up the sky,” he said. “Everyone was going pretty crazy and screaming.”

About 1,700 customers lost power. Southern California Edison crews worked overnight to replace three damaged transformers in the vault and restore service.

The incident is under investigation.

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