By Amanda Mayberry
On-campus electrician Jeff Daclan, recovering from a small explosion in the H8 building, was discharged from Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center on Monday.
The explosion caused a power outage in H8 and G8 buildings, evacuated classrooms and left one man injured on April 10. The G8 building reopened for students and teachers Monday.
Electricity was restored to the G8 building last week on April 16, but classes return to the building on Monday. The H8 building was reopened Tuesday.
The school closed the two buildings after Daclan shorted out the electricity, setting himself on fire in H8 during a class. Daclan went to the H8 building to fix some broken ovens in one of the chemistry classrooms.
While attempting to fix the ovens, he experienced an arc-flash, which is a small explosion that set him on fire. The main breaker which Daclan was attempting to fix was located in a small electrical closet in H8.
Daclan suffered from third-degree burns on his neck and left hand, which “was bad enough for a surgery,” according to general foreman Allison Mah. He received a skin graft on April 15 after the first evaluation.
Chemistry professor Vanessa Valverde was in her office at the time of the accident. “The whole building shook. I didn’t know what was going on. I thought it was an earthquake,” Valverde said.
According to Valverde, Daclan was disoriented and already attempting to extinguish the fire. Valverde said Daclan somehow found his way into her office, where one of her students whose name she withheld shielded her from the fire and was able to help to extinguish the fire.
Lead electrician Leroy Cadman said he talked with Daclan and that he was in good spirits. “He said the doctors checked his eyes and his eyes are fine. Lucky for him, he was wearing goggles,” Cadman said.
According to Cadman, the whole incident could have been avoided had a previous electrical job been done correctly. When the G7 and H7 buildings were demolished, the power to all the G and H buildings had to be turned off and rerouted back to the G8 and H8 buildings.
When the electricity was routed, the electrical contractors took a shortcut instead of doing the job correctly according to Vice President and Director of College Facilities Tom Furukawa. The contractors remain unnamed for reasons of litigation, according to Furukawa.
“Cutting corners with electricity is the worse thing you can do. They bypassed the main breakers and connected to the buss bar, which is not what you’re supposed to do,” Cadman said.
As a result, Daclan had no idea what he was in for and when he went to the teachers lounge to turn off the breaker, he experienced the arc-flash which set him on fire. The electrical contractor who did the job is now under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Megan Perry and Erik Luna also contributed to this story.