A 53-year-old man died after falling 50 feet into a smokestack on Saturday morning while working on upgrades to Yale's power plant in New Haven, fire officials said.
He worked for the International Chimney Corporation, based near Buffalo.
The New Haven Fire Department received a call from workers at 10:11 a.m. on Saturday reporting that a worker fell into a smokestack at the Central Power Plant on the Yale campus at 120 Tower Parkway, New Haven fire officials said.
Firefighters arrived four minutes later to find the man trapped inside a large chimney, but couldn't immediately reach him, according to New Haven Fire Operations Chief Matthew Marcarelli.
The man had been on a ladder about 50 feet up the chimney, which stretches 100 feet high, and fell to the bottom, Marcarelli said.
Firefighters split into two teams.
One team cut through a quarter-inch stainless steel plate at the base and the other lowered a rescuer from about 50 feet up, Marcarelli said.
“It’s not like a sewer pipe but it’s still a very unusual environment that we’re not used to encountering," Marcarelli said.
As New Haven firefighters rushed to save the man, a co-worker rendered aid inside the chimney.
The base team reached the victim first in about 30 minutes and removed him through the hole cut into the chimney, Marcarelli said.
Emergency responders performed CPR. The worker was in extremely critical condition and was rushed to Yale-New Haven hospital, but he later died there.
"We regret and mourn the loss of one of our employees at Yale University. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We are investigating the accident in full cooperation with OSHA," Thomas Sullivan, of the International Chimney Corporation, said in a statement.
The man's family has been notified, but the fire department is not releasing his name.
"“It’s awful obviously. It’s a terrible accident. I feel really bad for the guys who were working with knew the man that were working with him, his family, his friends. It’s just a really tragic accident," Robert Hurn, of New Haven, said.
Karen N. Peart, deputy press secretary of Yale's public affairs and communications office, said an active investigation is underway
"Yale University officials have been informed of the death of a subcontractor working at the power plant earlier today. Yale extends its deepest condolences to the worker’s family, friends, and co-workers," Peart said. "The university is providing support and counseling to anyone at Yale who has been affected by this sad news."
Yale safety and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are handling the investigation. The chimney company and Yale are cooperating with the investigation.
Hamden firefighters also responded.
OSHA has up to six months to complete its investigation of Saturday’s deadly fall.