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Sewer worker rescued from hole after 13 hours

A man rescued from a 12- to 15-foot hole where he was doing sewer work Tuesday afternoon in East Oakland thanked his rescuers as they brought him up out of the hole early Wednesday morning, a fire battalion chief said.

A trench had collapsed around the man at about 12:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of 21st Avenue and a shoring board had pinned him chest deep in sand and clay when rescuers responded, Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Dino Torres said today.

During the rescue, rescuers would shore up part of the hole but more sand and dirt would give way underneath, Torres said.

Ultimately, rescuers used a “big, giant” street vacuum to remove the sand and clay carefully, fearing sand could surge back upon the man, Torres said.

“It was a very slow, methodical process,” he said of the rescue, which took more than 13 hours.

Rescuers brought in floodlights and a heater to keep the man warm, but the man eventually told rescuers the heater made it too warm.

Rescuers stayed in touch with a doctor at Highland Hospital because they were concerned about the man’s medical condition, although his vital signs were pretty good during the rescue, Torres said.

He did not have an update on the man’s current condition.

The rescue was a coordinated effort between the Oakland and Alameda County fire departments, the Oakland Public Works Department, Highland Hospital, Paramedics Plus and Star Rooter & Plumbing Inc., the San Lorenzo-based company the man worked for.

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