Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Companies looking for clues in failed demolition

While it may seem like a rather strange phenomenon, the demolition of large buildings, stadiums, casinos or other towering structures always seems to draw rather sizeable crowds. Whether drawn by the cathartic promise of seeing a neighborhood eyesore come tumbling down or the prospect of a fiery explosion, it's a good bet that the turnout will always be good.

Those who show up to demolitions -- an arguably dangerous process -- trust that those professionals in charge of the process have conducted a thorough inspection, and determined not only the safest way to bring the structure down but also the safest distance from which people can watch.

Unfortunately, it appears as if those in charge of a demolition in Bakersfield, California this past weekend may have failed to do this, as several people suffered serious personal injuries went the planned explosion went terribly wrong.

According to reports, several thousand spectators gathered at the site of a steam power plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric, which had been closed for nearly 30 years. While the energy company had torn down the majority of the complex, they retained the services of the Cleveland Wrecking Co. to help bring down two 140-foot tall boiler towers.

Cleveland Wrecking Co., which brought in both an explosives firm and another subcontractor to help with the project, proceeded to set the charges in strategic positions meant to cause the tower to implode.

However, when the charges were detonated at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, it sent shrapnel flying into the crowd located behind the 1,000-foot safety barrier. Tragically, two spectators suffered serious injuries, including one man who lost part of his leg. Several others suffered lacerations and minor injuries.

The cause of the failed explosion is currently under investigation by state officials, the demolition companies and Pacific Gas.

"This was a terrible accident, and our hearts go out to the individuals who were injured," read a statement from Cleveland Wrecking Co. "We will be conducting a full investigation and will cooperate with the authorities. It would not be appropriate for us comment further at this stage."

While it remains to be seen what exactly happened, it's very possible that all of the aforementioned companies could soon find themselves facing legal action. Stay tuned for updates on this story...

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Bakersfield power plant demolition seriously injures bystanders," Joel Rubin, August 3, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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