Two United Launch Alliance personnel working at Vandenberg Air Force Base were rushed to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Saturday morning with serious injuries caused by an arc flash. One was flown by helicopter, and the other was taken by ambulance. The incident occurred at Space Launch Complex-6 on the south end of the base.
The base hasn’t released any more information on the incident, and its Public Affairs and Base Operator phone lines weren’t accepting calls or messages Saturday afternoon.
An arc flash occurs when an electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or to ground. According to the National Safety Council, the most common cause of arc flash accidents is human error, including distraction, dropping a tool or using an uninsulated tool, and the accumulation of dust in a work area. The most common injuries from arc flash incidents are second- and third-degree burns.