One of two men trapped in a water tank at an Oildale power plant died after the floor beneath them collapsed.
Authorities said the men were contracted employees, sent to clean up the 15 by 10 foot tank.
Cal-OSHA officials said the men were standing on a makeshift floor inside the tank when it fell, breaking one man's leg and killing 54-year-old Barry Snelson of Bakersfield.
Authorities say it was a routine cleaning Wednesday morning at the Live Oak Cogen Plant in the 7000 block of South Granite Road.
"A repair last night was done through welding, and this morning the two gentlemen were there to clean up the remnants of the welding, and something happened with the floor," said Eric Coughran, Kern County Fire Department.
Cal-OSHA said the floor was temporarily made for workers to stand on during repairs, but Wednesday morning it collapsed. Some said it sounded like an explosion.
"That was the floor hitting the tank so it wasn't an explosion. It was just a loud sound," said Dean Fryer, Spokesperson for Cal-OSHA.
Cal-OSHA said the two men inside were injured. One had a broken leg and was caught on piping. Snelson hit his head and was knocked unconscious and died. Officials said there were no toxic fumes in the water tank. "The tank was a watering filter system," said Coughran.
After three hours, Kern County firefighters rescued both men through the top of the tank. Cal-OSHA said Snelson died, most likely as a result of his head injury.
The investigation was turned over to Cal-OSHA. It's an unusual case for them to investigate. "I haven't heard of this type of incident before so it may not be a very frequent type of occurrence," said Fryer.
Cal-OSHA said their findings could take months.
The two men were contracted employees for a Bakersfield company, Brahma Group, Inc. The company declined to comment.