Explosion at BG&E plant injures 5 employees Equipment malfunction is suspected

August 19, 1993|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Staff Writer

An article in The Sun Thursday about an explosion at a BG&E generating plant included an incorrect location for the plant, which is near Pulaski Highway and Haven Street in East Baltimore. The article also should have said that police provided the addresses of several injured workers.

+ The Sun regrets the errors.

Five Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. employees were injured yesterday morning in an explosion at the utility's generating plant on Philadelphia Road in eastern Baltimore County.

BG&E identified the workers as John L. Bland, 30, of the 200 block of Scotts Manor Drive in Pasadena; Thomas C. Coulter, 48, whose address was not available; William C. Gillingham, 50, of the 200 block of 21st St. in Pasadena; James T. Sotoski, 49, of the 100 block of Palmetto Drive in Edgewood; and William C. Fuller, 54, of the first block of Garden Ridge Road in Catonsville.


Four of the workers were being treated last night at the burn unit at Francis Scott Key Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman ** said.

Mr. Bland suffered the most severe injuries, with burns on most of his upper body, a broken rib and a punctured lung. He was listed in critical condition.

Mr. Coulter suffered burns on his right arm and face, Mr. Gillingham on his face and both arms, and Mr. Sotoski on his left arm and the back of his neck. They were listed in stable condition.

Mr. Fuller, who suffered burns on both arms, was released yesterday afternoon.

The explosion occurred about 10 a.m. in a breaker house of the plant, which supplies additional electricity when demand is high due to the prolonged use of air conditioners, according to Peggy Mulloy, a BG&E spokeswoman.

She said the employees were checking the wiring so that a generator that burns oil to produce electricity could operate.

L A man sitting across from the plant witnessed the explosion.

"All of a sudden there was just a boom," said the man, who asked not to be identified. "A great ball of fire just came out of there."

Ms. Mulloy confirmed the man's account of the incident. "When the employees went to conduct routine tests, there was an explosion in the room," she said.

A preliminary investigation determined that the cause of the explosion was equipment failure because "there were no apparent safety violations by the workers," said John Metzger, a BG&E spokesman.

The explosion did not cause any structural damage.

Ms. Mulloy said that although the workers wear protective gear such as rubber gloves and sleeves and work with insulated sticks to examine electrical wires, the danger is always there.

"You never know," she said. "It's just like an experienced firefighter running into a different type of fire, or an experienced police officer going into a situation that he is not trained in. The risk is always out there.

"All of our employees who run into electricity are trained and retrained about the safety measures of working around electricity," Ms. Mulloy added.

The incident caused about a 10-second power outage at many businesses near the plant.

Chelo Arbary, a 32-year-old Dunkin' Donuts employee, said she was unaware of the explosion at the plant, which is behind the store.

"I didn't hear anything," she said. "You're the first person who told me about something like that. I feel so scared now. . . . It's like you don't know what's going to happen."

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