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updated: 8/3/2013 8:10 PM

Spectators injured after old power plant implosion

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  • An explosion knocks down one of the remaining towers Saturday at the old Kern Power Plant, in Bakersfield, Calif.

      An explosion knocks down one of the remaining towers Saturday at the old Kern Power Plant, in Bakersfield, Calif.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- Three spectators were injured Saturday by shrapnel sent flying at the demolition of a decommissioned steam power plant in Southern California, police said.

More than 1,000 people had gathered at 6 a.m. in a nearby parking lot to watch the planned implosion of the plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric to make way for a minor league baseball park. After the plant came crashing down, a police officer at the scene heard a man screaming for help and saw his leg had been severed, police said.

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"It was a piece of shrapnel that came flying out of the explosion and came across and went through a couple of chain link fences, struck him and impacted into a vehicle," said Lt. Scott Tunnicliffe.

The 44-year-old victim may lose his other leg as well due to his injuries, Tunnicliffe said. Two other spectators were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

A message left for Pacific Gas and Electric was not immediately returned.

Residents of Bakersfield, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles, were eager to see the decommissioned plant torn down to make way for new development, including a park for the Bakersfield Blaze, Tunnicliffe said.

Tunnicliffe said the injured spectators were about 1,050 feet away and in the area designated for them to watch the implosion.

"The roadway was closed, they were kept back the distance to where people could be," he said.

Some vehicles were also damaged by shrapnel, he said.

The incident was first reported by the Bakersfield Californian (http://bit.ly/31ZOk5 ).

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