HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – The Old World Village – a complex of restaurants, stores and bars in Huntington Beach – is preparing to reopen following a series of transformer explosions while hundreds of people were celebrating Oktoberfest.
Just after 8 p.m. Saturday, while nearly 1,000 people were celebrating Oktoberfest at the Old World Village, a string of explosions to transformers occurred in an underground electrical vault in the 7500 block of Center Avenue.
Huntington Beach firefighters arrived on scene following the first transformer explosion. Once on scene, a second explosion occurred when firefighters attempted to lift the concrete where the transformers were located.
Five people were hurt in the explosions, including two firefighters. The most seriously injured patient was 59-year-old Bernie Bischof, co-owner of Old World Village German Restaurant.
He was hospitalized with second and third-degree burns. Witnesses said Bischof had smelled something suspicious and began clearing people out just prior to the explosions. He’s being called a hero due to his quick-thinking.
“It does look like it could have been much worse,” Huntington Beach Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Lopez told CBS2 Sunday.
The Village was completely closed Sunday while SoCal Edison crews worked to replace the transformers and get power turned back on. There is still no word on a cause.
“We were closed all day Sunday because of the power outage,” Joshua Marsh told CBS2 Monday, who works at a coffee shop a few doors down from where the explosion occurred. “And we’re a very small shop, like a mom-and-pop shop, so the nature of being closed all day really hurts our sales a lot. So that was pretty tough for us.”
Old World Village was holding a rosary for Bischof Monday evening.
According to its website, the Oktoberfest celebration was scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Old World Village has been a staple in the community since it first opened back in 1978.