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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 14, 2010

Workers injured in underground blast on Fort Street Mall; power restored

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The scene of this morning's explosion on Fort Street Mall. Paramedics took two men to hospitals.

BRUCE ASATO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Two Hawaiian Electric Company workers were injured this morning, one seriously, in an underground explosion that left parts of Downtown Honolulu without power for about five hours. Power was restored at 3:15 p.m.

The explosion took place in an electrical vault on Fort Street Mall, just makai of South Pauahi Street.
Bryan Cheplic of the city’s Emergency Services Department said paramedics were dispatched at 10:19 a.m.
Cheplic said they treated and stabilized a man and took him to a hospital in critical condition. The man's condition has since improved to serious.
Cheplic said the man, believed to be in his 40s, sustained what appeared to be flash burns to about 10 percent of his body. He said the man also suffered trauma injuries that appeared to have been caused by explosive force.
Cheplic said paramedics treated a second man for burns to his hands and took him to a hospital.
Edith Alcalde, who works at Aloha Sushi in a building just off the mall, said she heard a loud explosion and then saw workers pulling a man out of the vault.
“His face was all black,” Alcalde said.
Shortly after the explosion, traffic lights were reported going out in several sections of Downtown. A police officer said lights were out from River to Punchbowl streets and Nimitz Highway to Beretania Street.
HECO spokesman Darren Pai said about 1,100 customers in the Downtown area were without power in the area bounded by Bethel to Richards streets and Beretania to Merchant streets.