4 Shakopee utility workers injured in 'arc flash' - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

4 Shakopee utility workers injured in 'arc flash'

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Neighbors said one of the utility workers was shocked badly while he was in this bucket. Photo by Leah Beno / FOX 9 News. Neighbors said one of the utility workers was shocked badly while he was in this bucket. Photo by Leah Beno / FOX 9 News.

Four Shakopee utilities workers were taken to the hospital after an accident during electrical maintenance work Monday morning.

Neighbors said one of the workers was shocked while standing in a cherry picker bucket near the intersection of Adams Street and 6th Avenue.

"We heard a boom and his skin was smoking," one of the neighbors said.

The city said it wasn't technically a shock, but an "arc flash," in which powerful currents travel through the air. An arc flash can cause severe burns and destruction of skin and tissue. An arc flash can melt or set clothing on fire, causing more burns.

Witnesses said the worker started screaming from inside the charred bucket that was stuck close to the power lines. As neighbors called 911, the worker tried to strip off his clothes and was even tempted to jump to the ground.

As coworkers lowered him back down, witnesses said it was clear that burns were covering much of his back and body.

Temperatures as high as 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded in arc flashes.

To avoid the risk of an arc flash, crews are supposed to wear special protective fabric. One neighbor told FOX 9 News the worker in the bucket kept repeating, "I should have put it on. Why didn't I put it on?"

Two of the workers were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, and the other two were treated at St. Francis Regional Medical Center. The latter two have since been released from St. Francis.

The Shakopee Valley News reports the accident happened around 8:30 a.m., the same time as a power outage in downtown Shakopee that affected the women's prison.

A spokesperson for Shakopee's public utilities department is trying to figure out what caused the accident.

"I've been with the utility five years, and I don't recall something happening to this extent," said Renee Schmid, superintendent. "It's something we don't want to happen. Safety is our foremost concern with our employees."

According to Schmid, the line carries more than 12,000 volts of electricity.

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