2 workers dead after power line hit near Ray Nixon Power Plant

Published: May. 10, 2018 at 9:45 AM MDT
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A tragic accident caused an explosion at a drilling site Thursday morning. It resulted in the death of two workers.

The workers were drilling for soil samples near the Ray Nixon Power Plant as part of a preliminary investigation for a Colorado Springs Utilities project. The site was about 300 meters away from I-25.

"What we believe to have happened ... We had contractors working, we believe their boom came into contact with overhead power lines, creating an electrical connection and immediately igniting the ground, and the truck and everyone around it," said Colorado Springs Fire Capt. Brian Vaughn.

Witnesses say they could see a giant fireball, then a huge plume of black smoke. The smoke was visible from several miles away.

Two men in their mid-20s were killed almost instantly while a third person at the scene was far enough away that he escaped relatively unscathed.

"When we arrived on scene we had a car fire, obviously, and a grass fire," Vaughn said.

The grass fire did not spread far beyond the immediate area around the truck, and once it was safe for crews to access the scene, it and the vehicle fire were extinguished quickly. There were concerns about the power lines when firefighters initially arrived, so it took several minutes before crews could reach the fire.

Aram Benyamin with Colorado Springs Utilities says the power line was carrying around 12,500 volts.

"That was right above the rig that they were working on, and that caused the shock of the vehicle ... then the fire was started and those two individuals that were on the rig got impacted by it," he said.

The workers were not with Springs Utilities, but a sub-contractor under a primary contractor the utility company had hired, Benyamin said.

"This is extremely unfortunate and ... things we pay extreme attention to, to make sure this doesn't happen again. It is very, very dangerous situation to work and very unfortunate incident," he said.

"There's not words we can say that will alleviate their [loved ones] pain."

Colorado Springs Chief of Staff Jeff Greene released a statement on behalf of the city in response to the tragedy.

"On behalf of the City of Colorado Springs, I’d like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the two subcontractors who perished in today’s accident near Ray Nixon Road. We are especially saddened to learn that these were such young men, taken much too soon. We understand that a small grass fire resulted from the accident and we thank CSFD, CSPD and the Fountain Police and Fire Departments for their quick response in mitigating additional harm.”

An autopsy will now be done to confirm the cause of death.

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