GEORGETOWN, Colo. - Xcel Energy and the Public Service Company of Colorado are on trial for allegedly violating workplace safety rules.
In October 2007, five employees of RPI Coating were trapped when a fire broke out inside the Cabin Creek Hydro Plant pipeline, well below the surface of the ground near Georgetown. All five men were killed. The youngest was 19 and the oldest was 52.
When the fire happened, it was a worst-case scenario that became real.
"We have a fire in our penstock - our tunnel," a person told a 911 dispatcher at the time. "There are people trapped in that penstock."
The men had no way out. The chemical fire was 1,000 feet underground.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board says the men were working on relining the pipe when the fire began. The workers on one side of the fire had a path to safety. Those on the other side did not. They died in the pipe less than an hour later. The coroner says they were killed by the fire's smoke.
The trial of Xcel began on June 1 after attorneys for both sides worked to pick a jury on May 31.