An Arc Flash is a catastrophic event when in the presence of an unprotected human body. In the following photographs you can see the damage that was absorbed by the 40 Cal/cm2 Arc Flash Suit and Hood a worker was wearing while working on a 1200 Amp Breaker. The protective suit and hood saved his life.
Even though the suit and hood received massive damage and melting; it is designed to withstand the heat and to not add further trauma to the victim by continuing to burn and melt into the human skin. Which is exactly what happens when “street clothing” is exposed to an Arc Flash event. This worker spent one week in a hospital; but would surely have received fatal injuries if he was not wearing protective clothing during this particular Arc Flash Event.
You will also notice the severe burns and damage to the surrounding areas of the workers environment.
Read the article SCG&E Arc Flash Event (PDF)