1 Dead and 1 Injured in California Trucking Firm Explosion

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/07/2014

An explosion at National Distribution Services, a Corona California trucking company, has killed one man and sent another to the hospital. Corona police Sgt. Kim Velasco says the blast occurred shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday and appears to have occurred while a welder was working on a petroleum tanker truck.

Big tanker

According to the Corona Police Department, the blast was reported about 2 p.m. at National Distribution Services, 340 N. Grant St. Police said an employee was welding a petroleum tanker truck at the time of the blast and died as a result. He was in his 50s, police said. The other victim was taken to the hospital and there's no word on his condition. Fortunately, no one else was hurt. The names of the victims have not yet been released, but they were among six to 10 workers at the business, three of whom were inside the building.

The blast left a gaping hole in the roof of the maintenance building where the truck was parked and aerial footage showed the large hole on the roof of the building. Although the explosion did not trigger a fire, the entire site was evacuated as investigators checked for hazardous materials. "It was a sudden explosion, like an impact," a witness said. "The windows rattled like they were going to break."

The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) will investigate the incident and Corona Fire Battalion Chief Mike Samuels said there was another previous explosion at the business in 2012. The blast also blew a hole in the roof of the building but didn't cause a fire.

“I’m happy I’m still alive,” said 59-year-old Juver Cuevas, who survived the blast unscathed.

“They were grinding something on or around the (truck’s) tank,” said Lynn Mata, spokeswoman for the Corona Fire Department. “There was an explosion. The manager here said it sounded like two trains colliding. “The truck came in yesterday or last night from Bakersfield,” Mata said. “The tank was empty.”

The blast left nearby neighbors shaken as well. “The windows rattled like they were going to break,” said 55-year-old Nathan Camacho. A worker at another nearby business said he was told one victim was blown about 20 feet into the air and that the survivor was burned on the face and hands.

“There was no fire or flames afterward,” added Dave Joletta, who works at Agri Comm. “It was just a big boom.”