At least four injuries were reported after a series of electrical transformer explosions rocked the Old World Village complex in Huntington Beach on Saturday evening.

Huntington Beach Fire Department officials told TV stations KCAL9 and KTLA that two firefighters and two patrons suffered minor injuries in the series of blasts.

While a heavy presence of fire and police personnel tended to the injured, hundreds of others attending an Oktoberfest event evacuated the area.

Hundreds of people, with many clad in German garb, stood outside of the village as dozens of police and fire vehicles blocked off of Center Avenue and Huntington Beach Lane.

After the blasts, power appeared to be shut off at Old World and a nearby hotel.

Multiple attendees recalled hearing and seeing the explosions take place at about 8:15 p.m. at the shopping and dining complex at 7561 Center Avenue.

One attendee, 26-year-old Megan Houck of Long Beach, said that she saw flames come from the floor near a patio area.

“It was just like one giant fireball that went up,” she said. “And then there was a second explosion maybe 10 or 20 seconds later.”

Houck said that the flames went well above the roof of the village, possibly up to 35 to 40 feet high.

A few minutes before the first explosion, Houck said that the lights had shut off and on. Other witnesses reported apparent electrical problems before the first blast.

In all, Houck said she saw three explosions. Shortly after the third explosion, she evacuated.

Dawn Orlow-Townsend, who was dining with her husband at a restaurant closest to the explosions, described a hectic scene to KCAL9.

“Mass pandemonium broke out in the restaurant … People are screaming and throwing chairs,” she told KCAL9. “People are just trying to get out of there, ’cause the heat was so intense.”

Fire officials had originally responded to an electrical fire at the complex. Once they opened up an underground electrical vault, there was an explosion, according to reports from the scene.

Within several minutes, another explosion occurred.

Fire investigators and utility company officials were investigating the exact cause of the transformer problem and explosions.


This is a developing story, check back for updates.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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