PALM SPRINGS: Hemet resident killed in power plant explosion

PALM SPRINGS – A Hemet resident was killed after a high-pressure valve exploded at a natural gas plant Monday, March 6. The fatal accident happened at the Wildflower Energy facility at 15775 Melissa Lane. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the deadly explosion.

The power plant, which is part of the Sentinel Energy Project, is north of Power Line and east of Diablo Roads in the unincorporated community of North Palm Springs. SEP is operated by Los Angeles-based Diamond Generating Corporation.

Coroner’s officials later identified 47-year-old, Daniel Lee Collins as the Sentinel Energy Project employee killed in Monday’s tragic accident. A coroner’s release indicated Collins was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident about 11:27 a.m.

Collins, who retired from the US Navy after 26 years, is survived by Denise Collins, his wife of 24 years, and the couple’s son Christopher.

CAL FIRE/Riverside County firefighters and other emergency first responders were dispatched to the scene of the deadly incident about 11:13 a.m.

When firefighters arrived at the power plant they confirmed Collins had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer April Newman.

Wildflower Energy operates two natural gas-fired generating plants that together produce 232 megawatts of power for the California market, according to the company’s website.

Using clean-burning natural gas, the plant uses water injection NOx control technology to reduce emissions from the plant. The zero-discharge facility draws and purifies any water it requires from its on-site well.

The two power plants, which are designed to start-up quickly to meet the imminent demand for energy when the electric grid cannot meet the supply, can respond within minutes to sudden increases in demand,

“We can be up and running in ten minutes,” Mark McDaniels, Vice President of CPV said in a 2013 interview with Coachella Valley Weekly. “We typically only operate during periods of peak demand for electricity. Our quick start ability allows us to supply power to the electrical grid system when needed.”

At the time, McDaniels said the facility employed 14 full-time employees who work at the plant in pairs on a rotating shift schedule.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Palm Desert station are overseeing the investigation into the cause of the deadly accident. They are being assisted by California Division of Occupational Safety and Health officials.

Cal OSHA spokesman Frank Polizzi said an investigation into the deadly explosion could last several months.

Anyone with information regarding this incident and investigation is encouraged to contact officials at the Palm Desert Sheriff’s station. Callers can refer to incident file number O170650009 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.


Contact the writer: [email protected]

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Trevor Montgomery spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including the Robert Presley Detention Center, the Southwest Station in Temecula, the Hemet Station, and the Lake Elsinore Station, along with many other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, Personnel and Background Investigations and he finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 12 – soon to be 13 – grandchildren.