Months after home explosions, concern among residents and new details in investigation

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WASATCH COUNTY, Utah — Months after explosions leveled two homes in two separate incidents in Wasatch County, the fire marshal says they’ve narrowed down the area of the propane leak that likely caused the blasts.

“The level of destruction, there was basically nothing left of the house,” Wasatch County Fire Marshal Clint Neerings remembers.

The investigation continues, as does the concern among people who live in Timber Lakes, especially as the area heads into wildfire season.

“Everybody is very concerned about fire,” resident John Bach said.

He’s one of dozens who attended a meeting with Wasatch County fire officials on Thursday.

Neerings updated the group on the investigation into the explosions that happened in February and March this year.

“Obviously, when we have the amount of fire or collapse or debris field we had, it’s really difficult to narrow down what the exact ignition point was,” Neerings said.

Still, Neerings said they’ve narrowed the leak down to the second stage regulator as the most likely cause.

“So you have two regulators on your propane tank. You have one at your tank that’s your primary,” he said. “It reduces the pressure and feeds underground to your secondary.”

Neerings said some sort of outside force caused the propane to leak into the home.

“It’s heavier than air. It pools at the bottom of your home and will build up until it finds an ignition source. Which obviously in these cases it did,” he said.

The first happened on February 15 when Lori Walker drove her children to her family’s Timber Lakes’ cabin. Walker smelled gas and told her kids to stay in the car. When she went to check on the cabin, it exploded.

On Monday, she and the community helped honor the neighbors who ran in to rescue her.

“I mean, how do you thank someone for giving you your life?” Walker said. “I’m just going to fight hard. I just want to work hard and become capable of serving back now.”

With the explosions still fresh on residents’ minds and fire season upon us, fire authorities shared propane and fire safety tips, urging people to clear the area around their homes and to keep their propane tanks maintained and marked.

“Everyone needs to mark their propane tanks so the fire department can find them right away and shut them off,” Bach said.

His wife recently helped start a fire safety committee in Timber Lakes.

Neerings said the investigation into the two incidents is ongoing, but he said the exact cause of the explosions will likely remain undetermined.

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Matt Rascon


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