Five workers burned in electrical fire in downtown Houston

June 20, 2013 3:06:11 PM PDT
Five CenterPoint workers were shocked on the job downtown. The workers were inside an underground vault near the old Southwestern Bell building on Capitol and Fannin when the accident happened Thursday morning at about 10am.

Crews spent the day on the scene, making repairs to that underground electrical vault. The Houston Fire Department says the damage underground is minimal, but the injuries to the five wounded CenterPoint workers are significant.

Shortly after 10am, Houston firefighters rushed to the scene of an electrical fire in an underground vault outside the old Southwestern Bell building in downtown Houston.

"The vault itself is on the sidewalk outside. It is not connected to the building," explained HFD Captain Ruy Lozano. "It has actually has a wall surrounding it."

Capt. Lozano says five CenterPoint employees were working inside the vault when it flashed.

"The flash is kind of like a big explosion ? a huge electrical, 480 volts," he explained.

Lozano says all of the workers have some degree of electric shock and some suffered significant burns. Firefighters extricated the workers. They were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Eyewitness Robert Reyes said, "I saw the flames and that's when I saw the people coming out."

Reyes a contractor working downtown was about 50 feet away from the explosion. He says he heard it and felt it.

"I thought it was, like, something metal falling off. There was nothing then I saw the fire," he recalled.

The latest update on the five injured workers is that one is in critical, two are in serious and two are in fair condition.

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