Elliot Olsen is a nationally respected explosion lawyer who has regained millions for clients. If you know someone affected by this California Oktoberfest explosion, you should convince them to call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation. He understands the pain and suffering experienced after such an event, and he can help survivors on the road to recovery.

Five people were injured Saturday night when an underground electrical vault exploded at a restaurant in Huntington Beach, California. One victim remains hospitalized.

Three explosions occurred during an Oktoberfest celebration at the Old World German Restaurant (7561 Center Avenue), although firefighters initially responded to a report of an electrical fire, according to Huntington Beach Fire Battalion chief Jeffrey Lopez.

Two firefighters and two civilians initially were said to have sustained minor injuries, but a third civilian – restaurant owner Bernie Bischof – was reported injured Sunday with “moderate to severe injuries,” Lopez said, and is still hospitalized.

California Oktoberfest explosion:
Strange odor right before blast

The first explosion took place at about 8:20 p.m., right about the time that firefighters “had just barely walked up to the area involved,” Lopez said.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Bischof was leading two firefighters to a patio area. The area had been cordoned off from restaurant patrons just a few minutes earlier after a strange small was reported emanating from the underground electrical vault, which held three transformers.

As Bischof, two staff members, and the firefighters approached the electrical vault, an explosion sent the 50-pound door flying and knocked all of them to the ground, Lopez said.

“Our firefighters had to literally pick themselves up off the ground and figure out what was going on,” Lopez said.

The explosion also had thrown a burning material — believed to be mineral oil from inside the transformers — into the air, burning the firefighters, Bischof, a server, and a security guard. “Two additional explosions occurred within minutes,” Lopez said. “Once the other fire crews arrived, they worked to ensure that the fire was isolated to the vault and to search the structure for any remaining occupants.”

Video from witnesses shows a giant ball of fire erupting into the evening sky. Witness Kyle Nelson told KTLA-TV that he heard and saw three large explosions in rapid succession emanating from the Oktoberfest celebration. Nelson said he was able to catch one of the explosions on camera.

California Oktoberfest explosion injures five; one still hospitalized

A California Oktoberfest explosion Saturday night left five people injured – and one of them hospitalized – in Huntington Beach. Restaurant owner Steve Bischof suffered second- and third-degree burns over 38 percent of his body.

California Oktoberfest explosion:
Bischof remains in hospital

Although Lopez would not name the hospitalized civilian, citing privacy concerns, Dan Escamilla – a member of the restaurant’s management team who was made spokesman after the explosions – said the person was Bischof.

Escamilla told the LA Times that Bischol was in critical condition at UCI Medical Center, having suffered second- and third-degree burns over 38 percent of his body.

California Oktoberfest explosion:
Gas smell also reported

Officials are working with the Southern California Edison power company to investigate the cause of the explosions, and to determine if gas played any role in the event. Some patrons had reported smelling gas, Lopez said.

“The restaurant probably won’t open up until next weekend,” Lopez said.

A Southern California Edison spokesperson said the company has replaced the three transformers that were within the electrical vault. An Edison crew initially had to wait to enter the vault Saturday night because police were concerned the explosions may have been caused by criminal activity, the spokesperson said.

Those concerns weren’t borne out, and Edison replaced the transformers overnight, restoring power by 9 a.m. About 1,700 Edison customers in all lost power for several hours after the explosions, and about 300 were without power until the morning.

California Oktoberfest explosion:
Transformer explosion in 2010

Escamilla said that one of the transformers beneath the restaurant exploded in June 2010. That blast occurred early in the morning, he said, and no one was injured.

The transformers were making “strange noises” as recently as a week ago, Escamilla said, and Bischof had asked Edison to look into the situation.

“Edison sent someone to check and they signed off on it,” Escamilla said. “Edison dropped the ball on this, simply put.”

Free consultation
with explosion lawyer

Elliot Olsen has decades of experience as an explosion lawyer. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: