2 critically injured in explosion at natural gas facility near Price

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PRICE — Two men were critically injured in an explosion and fire Tuesday at the Dry Canyon natural gas operations station.

Doug Jenkins was listed in critical condition at University Hospital's Intermountain Burn Center in Salt Lake City, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The name of the other man was not immediately available, but officials from the Carbon County Sheriff's Office said he is also listed in critical condition at the hospital.

"They have burns … from their ankles up to about the back of their heads, on their backs, from actually trying to evacuate the area when that explosion happened," said Carbon County Sheriff's Lt. Troy Christiansen.

Emergency crews were called about 10 a.m. The lack cellphone communication in the area caused a delay of more than an hour before a 911 call could be made, Christiansen said. In fact, a passerby picked up the victims and drove them to meet an ambulance.

The men were flown by medical helicopter to the hospital, said Jim Felton of the Bill Barrett Corp., an oil and natural gas exploration and development company that operates the station in the Nine Mile Canyon area, about 20 miles east of Price.

From the air Tuesday afternoon, KSL's Chopper 5 captured scenes from the catastrophic explosion: smoke filling the air and flames continuing to burn.

The damage to the facility itself was stunning: a giant creator in the ground, buildings obliterated by the blast, and charred shells of what used to be pickup trucks.

"The amount of damage there, I can't give you monetary value, but it's pretty expensive," Christiansen said. "It looks like a total loss. As far as the compression station, they'll have to rebuild it."

Firefighters throughout Carbon County were dispatched to the scene. Once they arrived, they kept their distance, allowing the facility to burn as a precaution. With a large amount of natural gas on site in tanks, emergency officials decided it was better to let it burn off.

"We're just evacuating to make sure no firefighters are injured just because of the property loss," Christiansen said. "We'd rather just let it burn out than get more people injured."

The Carbon County fire marshal was on scene, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration representatives are expected to arrive Wednesday to assess the situation.

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