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Master electrician gives possible cause for electrical accident
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
Two electrical workers are in a hospital with second degree burns, after they came into contact with electricity Tuesday morning in Hardin County. The men were working on a distribution power line on Keith Road. It was part of a maintenance service reliability project for Entergy.
The two men both suffered first and second degree burns to their faces. One of the men was taken by ambulance to St. Elizabeth's, the other man was flown by helicopter to UTMB burn center in Galveston because of the extent of his burns.
"Because of the nature of a facial burn, the criteria requires them to go to a burn center," said Lumberton Fire Chief Robert Simonson. "So, he probably only had 5 percent to 7 percent burns, but due to the location of the burn, we opted to send him to a burn center to make sure he got the optimal level of care."
Kevin McClory is a master electrician and owns Mr. Electric in Beaumont. He heard about the accident.
"Terrible, you hate to hear it," said McClory. "Unfortunately, with line men they do work with such a high voltage it's an unfortunate, but sometimes common accident that happens."
The cause of the accident is under investigation. McClory says the cause could be arc flash.
"When electricity arcs it creates a spike in voltage, it creates a flash," said McClory. "Sometimes it's the metals touching that are burning away, and that bright light is an extremely high temperature. And although it happens instantaneously, that flash and that heat that it causes, can burn our skin."
McClory usually works on a non-energized system. He says electricians who work on power lines, like the men injured Tuesday, usually work on energized lines.
"Obviously there's preventative measures, but accidents do happen, and the best thing you can do to protect yourself is just wear the proper protective equipment while operating on an energized system," said McClory.
He says contractors who work on power lines wear leather gloves.
"Which is sort of a first layer of protection, obviously leather being non conductive. The problem is that duirng the summer it's really hot and you sweat, and so the moment that these gloves become wet you've lost your insulation."
They also wear arc flash shields.
"It's a tinted piece of plastic that's designed to darken with that intense flash of electricity and so it protects the eyes and the face from that burn," said McClory.
It's a dangerous job.
"Unfortunately that's something that we're faced with daily," said McClory.
One that provides something so many of us rely on. The contractors' employer, Willbros Transmission & Distributive Services, gave KFDM the following statement.
"Two of our employees with Willbros Transmission & Distribution Services- West were injured and are receiving medical help. They are alert and talking. Our main focus is on their well-being, and as such, our managers are enroute to be with them and to ensure all of their needs are being met. We are initiating an investigation into the cause of the accident," said RosaLinda Perez, the Director of Communications for Willbros.