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SANDY — Investigators believe a natural gas leak likely caused an explosion at Johanna's Restaurant in December that literally blew the roof off of the popular restaurant.
"We believe that we had a natural gas explosion," Sandy Fire Marshal Robert DeKorver said Friday. "We're not exactly positive of what would have caused that gas leak."
Johanna's Restaurant, which used to be Johanna's Kitchen, 9725 S. State, was gutted in a large explosion on the morning on Dec. 14. No one was in the business at the time.
DeKorver and his crew have been investigating the fire since the explosion. He said Friday that his on-site work is complete and all that was left was filing his report, which would take about a week.
Based on what he found, DeKorver said investigators believe the blast originated in the east-central area of the restaurant. It's an area where there was a gas stove used for cooking as well as a natural gas fireplace, he said. However, because there were several natural gas pipes in that area — all of which were snapped in the explosion — it was difficult to determine exactly which one was leaking.
DeKorver noted that employees, who left the restaurant at approximately 3:30 p.m. the day before, had smelled what might have been natural gas in the days leading up to the explosion. But because of the frequent in-and-out traffic at the restaurant, he said the smell dissipated quickly and was never tracked down.
"With people moving in an out of the restaurant, doors opening, doors closing, you're going to get a lot of ventilation in that building. At the point that the resturant closed and people left, that would have sealed it to where it would have allowed for the concentrations to build up to reach their explosive limits," DeKorver said.
What ignited the gas is unknown.
The restaurant had been at its current State Street location since 1971. It was unknown Friday whether the current owners planned to rebuild.