Explosion injures six people - two critically - at South Mountain ranch

June 25, 2008
Santa Paula News

An explosion sparked by a man using a cutting torch on a 55-gallon drum containing a petroleum product injured six people, three critically, Sunday on a South Mountain Road farm, according to a Ventura County Fire Department spokesman.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesAn explosion sparked by a man using a cutting torch on a 55-gallon drum containing a petroleum product injured six people, three critically, Sunday on a South Mountain Road farm, according to a Ventura County Fire Department spokesman. The explosion occurred at about 3:40 p.m. at San Cristobal Distributing, a vegetable farm located at 20991 South Mountain Road.Four men, a woman and a 4-year-old girl were burned in the incident that occurred in the unincorporated area of the county. Santa Paula Fire Chief Rick Araiza said that Engine 81 was the first to arrive on scene.“Captain Dan Campos initially acted as the incident commander” until VCFD personnel arrived at the farm, located “almost at Balcom Canyon. Captain Campos made the call that it was a multiple casualty incident,” Chief Araiza.
“Obviously, initially there was a lot of confusion at the scene,” with several of the victims telling Santa Paula Fire Department personnel that others injured had been transported from the location in a van. Santa Paula Police personnel also were on the scene, where the explosion had caused a nearby shed to catch fire, but was quickly extinguished. Those standing closest to the 55-gallon drum when it exploded were injured, but others nearby escaped injury.VCFD Public Information Officer Bill Nash reported that the male victims are ages 22, 28, 29 and 30; the woman is 33, and the girl is 4 years old. The unidentified man using the cutting torch at the time of the explosion, whose extremely critical injuries included burns as well as trauma from the force of and debris from the blast, was airlifted to Ventura County Medical Center. One other victim received critical injuries and was also airlifted by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Air Med Unit.The remaining four people, one with serious injuries and three with moderate injuries, were taken by ambulance to Santa Paula Hospital and St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard. Araiza said that SPFD personnel stayed on the scene for about three hours before being released.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be investigating the incident, considered an industrial accident.



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