Five spectators were injured today after shrapnel was sent flying at the demolition of a decommissioned steam power plant in California's Central Valley, authorities said. More than 1,000 people had gathered at 6am in a nearby parking lot to watch the planned implosion at the plant owned by Pacific Gas and Electric in Bakersfield. After structures on the property came crashing down, a police officer at the scene heard a man screaming for help and saw his leg had been severed.
"It was a piece of shrapnel that came flying out of the explosion and came across and went through a couple of chain link fences, struck him and impacted into a vehicle," says the officer, adding the 44-year-old victim might lose his other leg as well due to his injuries. Four other spectators were treated for minor injuries. All of the injured spectators were standing beyond a perimeter set up to ensure public safety, says a county fire department engineer.