Gas Explosion Tears Through San Diego Hotel Construction Site, Injures 13

May 21, 2008
A natural gas explosion rocked a Hilton Hotel that was being built on the San Diego waterfront, destroying part of the hotel's facade and injuring 13 workers, several of them critically.

The explosion occurred shortly after 2:00 pm PST on May 19. According to a statement released by Hensel Phelps Construction Co., which was in charge of the construction project, the blast originated on the fifth floor where gas is fed to the domestic water system.

All but four of the workers have been released; three people are being treated for second and third degree burns, the company said. The injured employees work for subcontractors on the site and are not Hensel Phelps employees.

According to media reports, about four floors of the 30-story hotel, which is located near the San Diego Convention Center, have been badly damaged. Approximately 400 workers were inside the building at the time of the explosion

According to Hensel Phelps, the construction company has suspended work while they and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) examine the site and assess the damage.

“Once we verify there was no structural damage, we will implement a plan to safely remove the debris and repair the building,” the company's statement read. “At this point we are optimistic that this will not affect the opening date this fall.”

OccupationalHazards.com contacted Cal/OSHA for more information but calls were unreturned. In earlier reports, Cal/OSHA spokesperson Kate McGuire said the investigation will take 2 to 6 months to complete.

The Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel was scheduled to open by the end of this year, according to Hilton's Web site. It will have 1,190 rooms and more than 165,000 square feet of meeting space.

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