Archive for July, 2012

CA: Electrical Fire destroys Pizzeria

MARIPOSA, CA:  A May 11 fire that destroyed the Pizza Factory restaurant and a handful of other businesses was sparked by an electrical problem in the restaurant’s attic, firefighters have determined.  The findings recently were released by James Dulcich, chief of the Mariposa Public Utility District Fire Department.  The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, because the utility district doesn’t have fire investigators on its staff, Dulcich said in a  statement.

ref=”;atf=N;dcove=d;pl=story;sect=Local;pos=2;sz=300×250;tile=4;!c=news;pub=ModBee;ord=133753889742049;gender=;year=;income=?” target=”_blank”><img src=”;atf=N;dcove=d;pl=story;sect=Local;pos=2;sz=300×250;tile=4;!c=news;pub=ModBee;ord=133753889742049;gender=;year=;income=?” border=”0″ alt=”Advertisement”></a>      The Cal Fire report  indicated a “long time frame” from when people first smelled smoke to when the Fire Department was called, giving the blaze a head start.  “The fire was well established within the structure before firefighters arrived on scene,” Dulcich wrote.

The electrical fire was reported shortly before 8:30 p.m. at the 5005 Fifth St. building, which housed the Pizza Factory, in addition to several other businesses, including Pony Expresso Coffee House & Trading Post, Tracy’s Yarns, Larry’s Coins, Grace Notes Chimes, Mariposa County Arts Council and a bookstore.  About 40 people were inside the approximately 9,000-square-foot building when the fire erupted. No one was hurt.  The Pizza Factory opened 32 years ago in Mariposa.  Built during the mid-1800s, the building was one of the oldest in Mariposa.

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LA: Seafood company hit with $248,000 in fines and back/lost wages

Breaux Bridge, LA: The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on July 24 issued findings from investigations of C.J.’s Seafood Inc. in Breaux Bridge, La. OSHA cited C.J.’s Seafood, a former Wal-Mart supplier, with 11 serious and one other-than-serious safety violation for exposing workers to blocked exit, fire, electrical and chemical hazards. Additionally, the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company failed to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation to 73 workers as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to comply with provisions of the H-2B temporary foreign worker visa program established under the Immigration and Nationality Act.   OSHA proposes more than $34,000 in fines for C.J.’s Seafood of Breaux Bridge, La., for exposing workers to workplace hazards. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is seeking nearly $214,000 in back wages and penalties.

“It is imperative that employers comply with applicable laws that protect the health and safety of their workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Every worker deserves to go home safe at the end of a workday, and the employees at C.J.’s Seafood are entitled to nothing less.”

OSHA’s Baton Rouge Area Office conducted an investigation of the company’s facility in Breaux Bridge, where employees peel and boil seafood. Some of the serious violations cited pertain to the building not being equipped with fire extinguishers, exit signs or emergency eyewash stations. In addition, electrical breakers were not labeled, electrical outlets were not covered, an exit was blocked and temporary wiring was being used instead of permanent wiring. Finally, the employer did not have a written hazard communications program and did not make material safety data sheets available to employees to inform them of hazards in the workplace. These citations carry proposed penalties of $32,200. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious violation involves failing to maintain the OSHA 300 log, in which employee injuries and illnesses must be recorded. This citation carries a monetary penalty of $2,100. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

C.J.’s Seafood has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Baton Rouge area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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INDIA: 32 die in Electrical Fire on Train

HYDERABAD, INDIA:   Thirty-two people were killed yesterday when fire ripped through a coach of an overnight express train carrying sleeping passengers from New Delhi to the southern city of Chennai.  An electrical short circuit was thought to be the most likely cause of the tragedy on the long-distance service, which happened in the early hours of the morning near the town of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh state.

Dozens of rescuers and survivors, together with a crowd of onlookers, watched as the blackened and twisted bodies of victims, some burnt beyond recognition, were carried out of the train and laid in rows alongside the railway line.  Relatives of the victims wailed and screamed, while dazed survivors sat quietly.  “I woke up when people were rushing into our compartment,” said a passenger called Shantanu. “I was in S-10, which was attached to the S-11 coach that caught fire. There was smoke all around. We tried to open the emergency window. People jumped out of it.” The central government’s press office said that 32 people had lost their lives and 25 were injured. It added that families of the deceased would be offered 500,000 rupees (Dh33,000) compensation.

Nellore’s chief district official, B Sreedhar, said that preliminary investigations suggested a short circuit near a toilet had started the electrical fire.  The railway minister, Mukul Roy, said an investigation was underway. “Nothing can be excluded and nothing can be said without an investigation,” he added, shortly before rescuers completed their search for bodies, which had lasted almost 12 hours.  The train was travelling at 110 kilometres per hour when it went through Nellore station, where staff noticed the fire and informed railway authorities. The burning carriage was quickly detached from the rest of the train which prevented the fire spreading.

The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, sent his condolences and has asked the national railways ministry to coordinate the relief effort, his office said.  India’s accident-prone rail network remains the country’s main form of long-distance travel, despite fierce competition from airlines. While new airport infrastructure is appearing, Indian railways – a much-romanticised legacy of British colonial rule – often appear stuck in a time-warp.  There were two fatal accidents in May this year alone. A collision killed 25 people near the southern city of Bangalore andf our people died when a train derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

In March, Dinesh Trivedi, the railway minister, unveiled a draft budget for 2012-13 that included a major safety upgrade financed by across-the-board fare hikes. He was forced to withdraw it and resign after a rebellion by his own party, the Trinamool Congress, which objected to increasing ticket prices for the poorest travellers. Figures from the National Crime Records Bureau, which gathers the causes of fatalities across India, reveal that in 2009, 25,705 people died on the railways. The vast majority involved people falling from the open doors of carriages or being hit on the tracks.  India’s worst rail accident was in 1981 when a train plunged into a river in the eastern state of Bihar, killing an estimated 800 people.

Story via The National

AL: Electrical Fire Displaces 14; $250,0000 in damages

Montgomery, Alabama:  A two-alarm electrcial fire that ripped through the second story of a Montgomery Village townhouse on Sunday night displaced 14 people, according to Montgomery County fire department officials.  “No civilians or firefighters were injured,” said Assistant Chief Scott Graham, a spokesman for the Montgomery Country Fire and Rescue Service.

Fire and rescue personnel responded at around 11 p.m. to the fire, which occurred in the 18200 block of Kilrush Court.  Officials believe the fire was electrical and accidental, Graham said.  Damages from the fire totaled approximately $250,000, Graham said, adding that four housing units were damaged.

Firefighters arriving at the scene noticed heavy flames coming from the second story of a townhouse. The townhouse and surrounding houses were evacuated and the fire was extinguished quickly, Graham said.  The Red Cross is making accommodations for some of the displaced people, while others will be staying with relatives.

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Union Square Electrical Fire

New York, NY: An electrical fire at the Union Square subway station led to the temporary closing of one block of 14th Street at around 2 p.m.

EV Grieve rounded up photos of the small blaze, which is in a grate beside a subway entrance on the south side of 14th Street between Broadway and Fourth Avenue. The fire was caused by a “service box failure,” a spokesman for Con Edison told The Local. A spokesman told Gothamist, which gathered tweets about the fire, that the cause was “a failure of electrical cables.” No injuries were reported.

A spokesman for the Fire Department told The Local that firefighters had not responded to the fire — though photos say otherwise. In an apparently unrelated call, firefighters did respond to a report of smoke inside the station at around 12:30 p.m., which was caused by the breaks of a train.

The Con Edison employees who tended to the fire were managers filling in for unionized workers, who have been locked out. Recently union members have staged regular protests outside of Con Edison headquarters on Irving Place, though none were gathered today, perhaps due to the rain.

Story via NY Times

CANADA: Waterloo North Hydro fined $110K for Arc Flash Incident

Ontario, Canada: Waterloo North Hydro fined $110,000 under Ontario workplace safety law after worker burned from arc flash. The Ontario Ministry of Labour announced Wednesday that electricity distributor Waterloo North Hydro Inc. was fined $110,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in relation to an incident in which a worker was badly burned due to an arc flash.

The charges relate to an incident at a mall construction project in 2010 in Waterloo.  “Workers from Waterloo North Hydro Inc. had installed transformers on site and were attempting to send power from a transformer in one location to a transformer in another location,” the ministry stated in a press release Wednesday. “As power was sent to the second transformer, a worker for an electrical contractor was in the area routing a metal tape through a duct. The tape came into contact with a newly energized electrical conductor and caused an arc flash. The worker was badly burned.”

The utility pleaded guilty in the Ontario Court of Justice in Kitchener to failing to establish and implement an adequate job plan prior to installing and energizing the transformers.  “A job plan would have identified all known hazards and implemented controls for each hazard to protect workers from injury,” the Ministry of Labour stated.

One relevant section of provincial law is Section 181(1) of Ontario Regulation 213/91, which states: “Except where otherwise required by this Regulation, electrical work performed on or near electrical transmission or distribution systems shall be performed in accordance with the document entitled ‘Electrical Utility Safety Rules’ published by the Electrical and Utilities Safety Association of Ontario Incorporated and revised January, 2009.”

The other relevant section was Occupational Health and Safety Act, Section 23(1)(a).  The fine was imposed Monday by Justice of the Peace Ruth Legate Exon. The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge to be credited to a government fund intended to help victims of crime.

Story via Daily Commercial News

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MI: Electrical Exlposion (arc flash?) Blows Man hole Cover 10 feet in Air

JACKSON, MI: Westwood Mall and surrounding stores were evacuated Thursday night, after electrical lines underneath the mall parking lot caused a series of electrical explosions, according to Blackman- Leoni Township public safety Deputy Director Jon Johnston.  At about 6:11 p.m., officers arrived at the mall, 1850 W. Michigan Ave., in response to a 911 call reporting a possible explosion. Johnston said officials soon determined the cause was electrical, not gas, and called Consumers Energy to the scene.

The explosions were from several electrical lines below the parking lot, which then lofted a manhole cover six to 10 feet into the air at the rear of the mall by JC Penney, Johnston said.  The area was immediately evacuated by Blackman Leoni Public Safety officials, with the help of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Jackson Police Department.

Johnston said the WalMart shopping center had already lost power due to the electrical issues and mall officials made the decision to close early as a precautionary measure.

The cause of the electrical explosions was not immediately known, but crews from Consumers Energy have been called in to investigate the scene and help restore power to the area, Johnston said.  “The scene has been turned over to Consumers Energy but we’ll have a presence on the scene until the area is secure,” he said.  Johnston is unsure when power will be restored to the area, but said generator trucks have been called in to provide electricity to the produce sections of WalMart.

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MN: Arc Flash Injures 4 Utility Workers

Shakopee, MN:  Four Shakopee Public Utilities workers were injured while performing routine maintenance work near the Shakopee women’s prison at approximately 8:30 a.m. Monday. Two of the workers received care at nearby St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, two others were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.  A spokesperson for Shakopee Public Utilities said that one worker had already been released from St. Francis, and said a second injured worker would likely be released from that hospital Monday afternoon.  Renee Schmid, Director of Finance and Administration for Shakopee Public Utilities, said that the two employees who were expected to remain at HCMC overnight were both sitting upright and communicating.

The accident occurred at the corner of Adams Street and Sixth Avenue and coincided with a power outage in downtown Shakopee that lasted approximately one hour and left both the prison and numerous downtown businesses without power. It remains unclear if the two incidents are related.  KMSP-TV News reported that a nearby neighbor saw one of the utility workers shocked while working on a power line from a “cherry-picker” bucket near the intersection.  “We heard a boom and his skin was smoking,” the neighbor told a reporter from the station.

According to the report, the city said the worker hadn’t technically been shocked but had rather been the victim of an “arc flash,” in which powerful electric currents travel through the air. Witnesses at the scene reported that at least one worker had visible burns to much of his back and other parts of his body.

Shakopee Public Utilities is currently conducting an internal investigation into the electrical accident and power outage but could not say when details from that investigation would become publicly available. The company will be cooperating with other agencies, including the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, as is required by law.  Schmid said that accidents such as this morning’s were very unusual for the company.  “I’ve been here almost five years and never seen one (an electrcial accident like this morning’s, so it’s very infrequent,” she said. “We spend an inordinate amount of time safety-training with our staff—it’s our number one priority.”

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TN: Faulty Electrical wiring sparks $75K Apartment Fire

Memphis, TN: Faulty electrical wiring started a fire Wednesday that damaged four apartments and forced three families from their homes, according to investigators.

The flames started just after 4:30 p.m. in the Cypress Garden Apartments, 1209 Springdale St. The fire started in an apartment’s bedroom wall, but three other units ended up being damaged during the electrical fire, according to emergency crews.

No one was injured during the fire, but the damage was so extensive that the Red Cross had to provide shelter for several families.

Investigators say the fire caused about $75,000 in damage.

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CALGARY: Electrical Fire shuts down 911 service, Radio and More

CALGARY, CANADA:  An electrical fire at Shaw Communications’ downtown headquarters  has wiped out radio stations, internet service, 911 service in the core, cable  TV service and much of city hall’s phone system.

Fire crews were called early Wednesday afternoon for a two-alarm incident at  Shaw Court at 630 3rd Ave. S.W. Calgary Fire spokesman Jayson Doyscher said the  incident appears to be in an electrical room on the 13th floor.

The building’s employees were evacuated, but EMS said they were not treating  any patients.

Shaw’s corporate base is also the nerve centre for several major  communications servers, it turns out. The Alberta Emergency Alert network said  around 4 p.m. that the incident has disrupted 911 services to up to 30,000 of  Shaw’s land line customers in downtown Calgary. It urged users to call 911 by  cellphone if necessary.

Alberta Health Services’ network has also gone down, said Bruce Burrell, the  city’s emergency operations chief.

The City of Calgary has also initiated its municipal emergency plan, as its  311 hotline and many of its office phones had gone down.

The city has set up a temporary line to replace 311 — 403-695-3255 — but  cautioned that its capacity is limited and should only be used for “priority” problems like dog bites, street light outages or similarly urgent issues.

The outage also extends to downtown landlines and debit machines at stores  and banks.

Three radio stations – Country 105, AM 770 and Q 107 – are housed in Shaw  Court and were tossed off-air.

“This thing was major,” said Garry McKenzie, regional general manager for  Corus Entertainment. “It was big and took everybody down.”

Engineers scrambled to turn listeners onto feeds from sister stations in  Edmonton.

Radio celebrity Dave Rutherford was amongst the evacuees.

“I was thinking it was one of those rolling blackout deals,” Rutherford said.  “Turns out, maybe not.”

Shaw employees were directed to a nearby park where they were told a problem  with a generator set off the fire suppression system. Staff were also told to go  home and that they would not be able to access the company parkade.

While most employees attributed the speedy evacuation to regular rehearsals,  a few snags were reported.

“When the fire alarms started to go off there was a bit of concern,” said  Shaw employee Colin Morrison. “None of our emergency lighting went back on.”

Nearby businesses were also affected.

Pub owner James Buchanan said an outage crashed debit and credit machines  during the lunch-hour rush.

Service was bogged down as customers were forced to pay in cash or leave  credit card imprints.

“What a massive waste of time,” said the frustrated restauranteer. “It’s  going to make cashing out at the end of the night a pain in the ass.”

Calgary EMS say they are not treating any patients.

Downtown roads are closed to traffic

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