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ST. GEORGE — According to an investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office, a fire that engulfed a converted bus in Veyo on Dec. 27 was caused by an industrial propane heater that vented overheated gases into the bus.
The fire in the vehicle occupied by a family of six left the father, Kyle Copeland, severely burned after witnesses said he went back into the vehicle to rescue his 11-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son who were still inside the burning bus.
Copeland and the two children all remain at University Medical Center in Las Vegas after several surgeries. The 3-year-old was taken off a ventilator over the weekend, and all three are conscious and now able to sit up but remain wrapped head-to-toe in bandages.
Todd Hohbein, a section manager with the Utah State Fire Marshal's Office, told St. George News the heater was meant for a large building and had emergency vents at the top meant to blow out superheated air in the event the gases inside exerted too much pressure.
The emergency vents heating element on top of the tank was blowing warm air into the bus like a blowtorch.
–Todd Hohbein, Utah State Fire Marshal’s Office
"A cold propane heater could expand too quickly," Hohbein said. "The emergency vents heating element on top of the tank was blowing warm air into the bus like a blowtorch."