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Bonfire burns 3 Juab High students


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NEPHI -- For close to 40 years, Juab High School has had a tradition: the Homecoming bonfire. But this year's event ended with what witnesses called a "horrific explosion."

"Yeah, you know, you see it in movies. And then it happens in real life, it's really, it's kind of shocking," said Dalton Gibb, who witnessed the explosion.

Seniors from Juab High School were just about to light their traditional bonfire when something went terribly wrong.

"It was a terrible burst. It was huge, Gibb said.

Just moments before the senior students lit the fire, a student snapped a picture of Hayden Coombes pouring gasoline on the wood as his buddies stood close by with torches. But before he could climb down, the wood ignited.

"The next thing I know, it lit up and just kind of blew, and he ran. He was on fire," Gibb said.

"Several people stated that they saw students running from the bonfire with parts of their bodies on fire, their clothing," said Nephi police Lt. Bert Wright.

Police say the fumes from the gas somehow connected with the lit torches, causing an explosion. Four students were badly burned; Hayden Coombes was airlifted to University Hospital.

Although this is a school tradition, Juab School District hasn't sanctioned it in nearly 10 years. Students and parents have carried it on, but Juab High School Principal Rick Robins says he thinks it's too dangerous to keep it going.

"My guess is that it probably will not continue," Robbins said.

All four students have been released from the hospital, and all four went back to school Thursday.

E-mail: jstagg@ksl.com


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Jennifer Stagg

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