Officials talk safety after recent gas explosions

Local News
duck creek

MIDVALE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah’s first responders have dealt with four explosions in three weeks. 
The explosions killed one man and injured several other.

The first explosion happened on February 15th in Wasatch County. 

Wasatch County Fire spokesperson Janet Carson told ABC4 News, a mother and her four children arrived at their family cabin on Lake Pines Drive and smelled gas. Carson said the mother left the kids in the car and went into the cabin to investigate when it exploded. She was seriously injured. 

One day later, crews rushed up Little Cottonwood Canyon after an explosion at an apartment complex between Alta and Snowbird Ski Resorts. Crews say no one was injured and the explosion remains under investigation.

Saturday morning one man was killed and another injured after a storage unit exploded in Ogden. Officials say propane may be to blame.

Later that evening, four people were injured when a rental cabin exploded.
Officials say a young mother and father were staying in the cabin with their one-year-old child. They noticed the propane heater pilot light was out, so they contacted maintenance. 

Records show the property manager showed up and once he lit the pilot light, flames shot out a couple of feet and exploded due to the amount of propane that was inside the structure. All four people are expected to be ok.

The explosions bring up safety concerns for many Utahns.

First responders say you don’t want to stick around if there is a strong odor of natural gas and to leave the building immediately. 

Mathew McFarland with Unified Fire Authority says, “Wait until you’re out of the house to call 911.  And when you call 911, that is going to initiate us calling the gas company as well.”

Officials say, do not use anything that may spark a flame.
They also warn folks not to open a window and ventilate the room because that could aid an explosion. 

Dominion Energy’s Dana Peterson tells ABC4 News, natural gas is odorless.

“Local utilities add a non-toxic chemical odorant called mercaptan to make leaks easy to smell. However, there may be times when the smell of the odorant is weak or not present, even though there is a leak,” Dominion Energy’s website states.

Firefighters say natural gas cannot be detected by a fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector. 

Some signs you may be affected by natural gas involves disorientation, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. 

“Don’t mess with lights. Any kind of energy, any kind of static electricity or any current electricity through the power grid could spark an explosion if those gases have accumulated in the right kind of concentration,” McFarland adds.

Firefighters and utility experts are equipped with special tools that allow them to detect the concentration in the air.

“We can follow the level of concentrate until we see those numbers go up, often times helping us pinpoint a source,” he says.

Allowing gas companies like Dominion Energy to shut off the gas at the source of the problem.

“If you suspect there is a problem, get out and call us. If you think there is a problem, we think there is a problem until we can show up and disprove it,” says McFarland. “We are ok with showing up and discovering that it is the smell of fresh paint or something; that is an emergency we are ok with.”

Dominion Energy says another way to prevent a natural gas explosion is by keeping snow from burying exhaust and intake vents, and from piling up on natural gas meters.

Peterson says Dominion Energy offers a scratch-and-sniff brochure that allows you to identify the rotten egg-like odor that is put into natural gas. If you would like one please call 1-800-323-5517.   

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Transfer of Power

FULL COVERAGE: Transfer of Power