LOS ANGELES - A worker was trapped for more than two hours early Sunday inside a bulldozer that plunged 50 feet into a massive silo filled with soft powdered coal, firefighters said.
The man breathed reserve oxygen supplies in the cab of his bulldozer and communicated with rescuers by radio as they struggled to reach him using ladders, ropes and pulleys, said Fire Department Spokesman Brian Humphrey.
The worker, a 40-year-old Monarch Beach resident, was extricated at 2:18 a.m., two hours and 15 minutes after his bulldozer plunged blade-first into an enclosed, 200-foot-tall cylinder. The container is used to store bituminous coal product, or coke, at the Port of Los Angeles before it's shipped overseas to be sold.
The worker was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated for a racing pulse, but was otherwise unharmed, Humphrey said. He said he did not know the man's name.
Coal product is loaded from the top into the cylinder where the man got stuck, and removed from the bottom. Bulldozers are used inside the massive holding container to smooth the product around and maneuver it toward the drain in the bottom, Humphrey said.
He said he did not know what caused the bulldozer to slip and plunge into the loosely packed coal.
''The bottom just dropped out. He went down 50 feet and had literally the Grand Canyon of coal surrounding him,'' Humphrey said. ''It would have taken little more than a simple vibration to have brought the whole pile crashing down.''
The bulldozer, a Caterpillar D-9 weighing more than 100,000 pounds, remained stuck Sunday inside the cylinder. Workers were considering draining the coke from the silo to remove it, Humphrey said.