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Blast Rocks General Dynamics Plant, 1 Hurt

December 06, 1987|DAVID SMOLLAR | Times Staff Writer

An electrical substation exploded late Saturday at the General Dynamics Corp. plant on Pacific Highway, seriously burning at least one worker and plunging the sprawling facility into darkness.

The worker was taken by paramedics to the burn unit at the UC San Diego Medical Center. Several companies of San Diego city firefighters put out the electrical blaze in about a half hour. But both city and plant firefighters remained on the scene in case flames flared up again in the 25,000-volt transformer vault.

The plant is owned by the Air Force and is used to build launchers for cruise missiles. It is one of the plants that inspectors from the Soviet Union would be allowed to check periodically under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty due to be signed this week by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Because of its military significance, details were sketchy concerning the explosion. Two San Diego city police officers said they saw a bright flash while driving west in Mission Valley, several miles from the plant, before being called to the scene. They said that there apparently was an explosion in a manhole just before to the larger blast.

Radio dispatches by firefighters indicated that the explosion occurred on the outside of a warehouse located on the northeastern end of the plant complex. Thick white smoke curled high into the air for about 15 minutes, and firefighters called for electrical technicians from San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to inspect the damage.

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