Power plant collapses during demolition; at least one killed

One man was killedand another two were critically injured Monday when a five-story metal structure collapsed during demolition preparations at the former Pacific Gas and Electric power plant in Bayview-Hunters Point.

Emergency officials were investigating the cause of the collapse, which occurred at 1100 Evans Ave. just before noon Monday, San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge said. According to Talmadge, the top section of the structure dropped in a “pancake collapse,” causing the rest of edifice to twist and crumble to the ground.

Rescue officials were able to extricate the first worker less than a half-hour after the collapse, SFFD spokesman Lt. Ken Smith said. That worker was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital with serious leg injuries, Smith said. The second worker was already dead upon discovery, while the third worker was rescued a little less than an hour after the collapse and hospitalized with “crushing leg injuries and facial lacerations,” Smith said.

The body of the third worker was removed from the collapse at 9 p.m. a nearly six-hour extrication process, according to Smith.

The two surviving workers were aged somewhere between 40 and 50, S.F. General spokeswoman Marty Paschal said. The men are being treated at San Francisco General Hospital for life-threatening injuries, fire officials said.

Their conditions late Monday night were not known.

No other workers were in the “danger zone” at the time of the collapse, said Talmadge, and all other workers on site have been accounted for.

PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said all three workers were employed by LVI Services Inc., an environmental remediation corporation contracted to help in the ongoing demolition of the former power plant. LVI Services Inc. representative Amy McGahan said she could not respond to questions about how the collapse happened.

The workers were in thebeginning stages of a “pull-down” procedure, a standard demolition practice in which they attach cables to the structure and raze it, Talmadge said. The structure collapsed, however, before the workers began the demolition operation, Talmadge said.

Officials with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health said it will conduct an investigation into the incident.

“Because the structure collapsed before the pull-down began, it is very important that CAL-OSHA conduct a detailed study into what happened,” Talmadge said.

wreisman@examiner.com  

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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