SANTA ANA, CA — A worker at Southern California's John Wayne Airport was killed when a large tire from a jet bridge used to connect terminals to aircraft doors exploded during maintenance, officials said Wednesday.
Two contract employees were in a workshop disassembling the tire when the explosion happened late Tuesday, said airport spokeswoman Deanne Thompson.
The blast set off a fire alarm that summoned airfield rescue crews.
"One of the men sustained fatal injuries due to the force of the explosion," Thompson said. He died at the scene. The other worker did not seek treatment.
The state's workplace safety agency, known as Cal-OSHA, will investigate. The agency didn't immediately return a call and an email requesting more information.
Thompson said tires of that size — about four feet (1.2 meters) in diameter — are under "enormous" pressure.
She said both employees worked for JBT Aero Tech Services, a company that maintains the Orange County airport's jet bridges and luggage handling system. Jet bridges are the moveable passenger-loading structures that connect terminals to airliner doors. JBT didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
No airport operations were affected.