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Couple electrocuted while stealing copper wire

October 23, 2010 |  8:53 pm

A man was electrocuted and died as he and a female partner tried to steal copper wire from an electrical vault in South Gate on Saturday afternoon, police said.

The woman tried to pull him away from the vault when it caught fire and exploded, but the electricity traveled through her body and she received severe burns, South Gate police spokesman Lt. Keith Huff said. He said she was taken to St. Francis Medical Center and transferred Saturday night to the Grossman Burn Centers.

Two small children were found in a truck 15 feet from the accident but were not injured. They were being held by childrens’ services workers, Huff said.

The electrical vault was on a lot at 3064 Firestone Blvd., at the corner of South Gate Avenue. The lot was the former site of Liberty Cable Company but has been unoccupied for more than a year, Huff said.

He said that the explosion at 4:14 p.m. knocked out power across the west side of South Gate, and that the power was largely restored by the evening.

-- Margot Roosevelt