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Crews rescue worker at Wilmington plant

November 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Urban search-and-rescue crews were called out to rescue a worker from an underground tank at a chemical treatment plant in Wilmington on Friday.

Authorities say the worker fell into a 30-foot fuel tank at the fuel depot company in the 3000 block of N. Gaffey Street at about 12:30 p.m. Fire officials say the incident happened while the worker performed routine maintenance on the tank.

A fellow employee climbed down the tank to check on the injured worker. Once he determined that the worker would not be able to get out on his own, he called 911 and stayed with the victim until help arrived.

It took crews several hours to hoist the victim out of the tank.

"We had taken a reading real quick from our hazardous material people telling us that the atmosphere was safe so there was no time critical urgency to go faster," said Asst. Chief Ralph Terrazas of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. "We went methodically, safely, and got them out."

Even though the tank was empty except for a slight amount of petroleum sludge, they checked both workers for possible exposure to dangerous fumes.

The worker was transported to a local hospital for further examination.