Explosion, fire at Woods Cross refinery rock neighborhood

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WOODS CROSS -- An investigation begins Thursday into a refinery explosion at the Silver Eagle Refinery, located at 2355 S. 1100 West, that damaged several homes in the surrounding area and was felt several miles away from the facility.

Explosion shook homes, fire broke out

Jeff Bassett, with South Davis Fire, said his department was dispatched to the fire at 9:13 a.m. When they arrived, Silver Eagle's fire brigade was already putting the fire out, and it took only a few minutes to knock the flames down.

Surrounding refineries were putting off a lot of smoke, but that was due to power bumps caused by the initial explosion. None of them was in any danger, according to Bassett. Power has been restored.

The explosion was a result of a line carrying hydrogen and diesel fuel that leaked onto the ground. It ignited, causing the large explosion and resulting fire.

Silver Eagle said it was working with the fire department to determine exactly what happened and what information would be released to the public.

A six-member team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is being deployed to the scene. The team will be arriving Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents.

Several nearby homes damaged

There were no injuries reported at the refinery or surrounding homes. However, some homes were severely damaged. The explosion was felt as far away as Roy.

We didn't know if it was the big earthquake or if a train had derailed.

–Paul Chavez

"I have family that lives in this area, and obviously you don't want to see anyone hurt, let alone families that live around you. So, absolutely a sigh of relief right now," said Dave McSain, president of Silver Eagle Refinery.

Linda Wood lives near the refinery. She wasn't home at the time of the explosion. When she heard what happened, she rushed home to find her front door open, all the windows blown out and dishes on the floor. There was also some damage to the foundation of the home, and her home was condemned.

"They said it blew it off the foundation. You go in the backyard, you can see where it blew it off the foundation. My front door was open, wide open, when I got here. My garage wouldn't go up; we forced it up. I'm really glad that I wasn't here. I probably would've been hurt really badly," Wood said.


Pickup trucks pulling empty trailers arrived at Wood's house all morning, preparing to empty the house of her belongings.

Wood's house and the two next to hers seemed to have taken the brunt of the damage. They are only about 200 yards away from the explosion.

Wood's neighbor, Royd White, said, "It was almost like it was a delayed thing. It was like a rumble, then it built. You could feel, almost like the air was sucked out and blown back in. And it lasted for several seconds, is what it felt like."

Paul Chavez was visiting friends in the area. He said, "I was meeting with my friend, and we were upstairs in the library, and we heard an initial blast. We didn't know what type, what it was. It felt like a second. And the second one was a compression blast, where we actually felt it in our bodies, and the entire house shook for probably three to four seconds. It seemed like it was much longer."

Questions over safety

KSL News asked Silver Eagle's safety manager how he feels about homes being built so close to the refinery.

"The neighbors came in long after the refinery did, and that's about everything I can tell you," safety manager Dan Beecher said.

In fact, Silver Eagle's president said those homes were allowed to be built so close.

"I don't really want to grapple with the city right now. There is terminology in our field where they designate things as blat zones, and I would think that some of these would fall inside that, yes," McSwian said.

Wednesday evening, refinery executives called a meeting of all the residents in the area. They wanted to make sure that everyone affected by the explosion was contacted and that they know what's going to be happening in the future.

Ironically, residents in the neighborhood just received a letter in the last few days inviting them to attend an open house a week from now regarding the refinery's operations and the safety and environmental issues.


Story compiled with contributions from Alex Cabrero, Keith McCord, Randall Jeppesen and Andrew Adams.


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