Sand explosion rocks Solana Beach

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SOLANA BEACH, Calif. – San Diego Association of Governments was investigating an explosion that rocked Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach Wednesday evening.

Clay Zaccaglini was watching the sunset at Fletcher Cove Wednesday around 4:30 p.m. when he had a jolting experience.

“It was literally like a bomb going off,” said Zaccaglini. “There was so much force from the blast. I ran to my son and literally jumped on him. Then I picked him up and ran to the swings.”

Clay managed to reach safety and everyone else in the park walked away uninjured.

The blast was from the $28 million SANDAG sand replenishing project along the San Diego coastline, according to SANDAG spokeswoman Colleen Windsor.

“This is one of five beaches our crews are working on,” said Windsor.

Windsor said workers were just finishing up for the day when they hit a snag Wednesday evening. As part of the procedure, an end cap was placed on the piper and workers began to pump in air.

Solana Beach sand replenishment project (Credit @SANDAG)

“We had done about seven loads at this location they got a clog in the pipe,” said Windsor.  “Just like you would try to plunge a sink and get the clog through.”

But, what came through was much more than the clog. A 50-pound piece of steel was sent flying with debris raining down onto the beach, she said.

“The end of the cap blew off and traveled about 300 feet to the top of that hill,” said Windsor.  “It blew out some of the dozers at the beach and the windows here at the lifeguard station.”

Just to be on the safe side, Zaccaglini said until the project is complete, he and his family are staying away.

“I’m just really happy and feel blessed that I’m here, that my son is safe,” said Zaccaglini. “When those pipes get removed, I’ll come back.”

For now, SANDAG has suspended the project while it’s under investigation.  Once work is complete in Solana Beach, crews will move on to Carlsbad.

3 comments

  • L. Barnard

    Cable tethers would prevent temporary caps from unexpectedly disconnecting and getting airborne. It's a dangerous and unacceptable practice to "test pipes" using air. Most heavy industries in the U.S. use water (hydrotesting). SANDAG's attempt to clear their dredge pipe was no different then an air test.

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