The five CenterPoint employees were conducting routine work between 9:30 and 10 a.m. in an underground utility vault just outside the Southwestern Bell building downtown this morning when a flash fire occurred.
Ruy Lozano is with the Houston Fire Department.
“Houston Fire Department was dispatched, they showed up on scene, rescued those that were still inside and transported them to Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Medical Center. The fire was contained, there was no threat to the community, but those employees sustained significant flash fire injuries.”
Lozano says the workers were both burned and shocked by 480 volts of electricity. But Leticia Lowe with CenterPoint says the workers injuries are a result of the fire only, and not from electrical shock.
A spokesperson for Memorial Hermann Hospital says of the five workers one is in critical condition, two are in serious condition, and two are in fair condition.
Centerpoint is withholding the names of the victims until family members have been notified.
Lozano says flash fires don’t happen too often.
“It’s the first one I’ve ever had to report on, so I don’t think it’s a frequent occurrence, no.”
Parts of Capitol, San Jacinto and Dallas streets were closed for about an hour after the incident.
Lowe says CenterPoint is conducting an investigation into what caused the flash fire.