Oktoberfest Celebration Canceled After Explosion, 1 Still Hospitalized

on Oct6
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The Old World Village’s Oktoberfest celebration in Huntington Beach has been canceled Sunday, less than 24 hours after an explosion injured five. 

The Oktoberfest celebration, market and restaurant will be closed on Sunday as Southern California Edison investigates the cause of the explosion that happened Saturday night. 

The explosion happened during the annual Oktoberfest. About 15-20 minutes before the explosions, someone called the fire department after lights at the event began flickering. A crew from the Huntington Beach Fire Department responded and went to investigate an underground vault.

During that time the owner of the restaurant put up caution tape around the patio to make sure no one was around the area. An odour then started to come from the underground vault where the transformers were. 

4 Hurt in Explosions at Oktoberfest

[LA] 4 Hurt in Explosions at Oktoberfest

When they approached the vault, there was a first explosion, the HBFD said. Then, there were two more explosions, sending flames shooting high into the air. 

“There was an underground vault containing three transformers one of those transformers exploded,” said Jeff Lopez, Battalion Chief of HBFP. “That inital explosion knocked everybody down.” 

The owner, Bernie Bischof was injured during the explosions. He was injured escorting the fire department to the source of the odour, said Oktoberfest spokesman Dan Escamilla. 

“He was the first person walking in and that’s when the blast occurred so he received the brunt of it,” said Escamilla. “He’s suffering from second to third degree burns over 38 percent of his body right now.”

Two other firefighters were injured during the explosion.

“When the explosion occurred the mineral oil contained in the transformer was either extremely hot or on fire,” said Escamilla. “That rained down on their heads. In the case of Bernie it splattered all over his arms and legs.” 

Escamilla said Bischoff is expected to be in the hospital for three weeks.  It was Bischof’s 42nd year holding Oktoberfest. His father built Old World Village. Escamilla said people are crediting Bischoff with their lives after reporting off parts of the festival before the explosion.  

The two other civilains and two firefighters injured have been released from the hospital. 

The next Oktoberfest event will be Wednesday night at 6 p.m. 

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