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Firefighters douse blaze at Vernal propane site

Published January 15, 2013 1:27 pm

Blaze • Firefighters put out flames after two-hour battle.
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Uintah County firefighters fought a potentially explosive fire at a Vernal propane plant for more than two hours before finally controlling the flames early Tuesday afternoon. No one was hurt.

Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen said that by 1 p.m. firefighters were checking for remaining hot spots at the scene of the blaze, a storage building at Basin Propane Systems, 1447 E. 500 South. The fire initially was reported at 10:32 a.m.

"It didn't get into any of their propane tanks, just their storage building," Laursen said. "But the fire is out and they released [the crews]. There are just some fire engines mopping up."

Laursen said that given the potential for the flames reaching large propane storage tanks on site, a precautionary evacuation was ordered within a half-mile radius of the plant. U.S. 40, which passed within about 400 feet of the fire scene, also was shut down for a couple hours.

Flames and smoke were reported as billowing into the skies shortly after the fire broke out, and some residents reported hearing pops and explosions.

As of 2 p.m., the evacuation had been lifted, according to Vernal city spokesman Keith Campbell, though spotty power outages in the area around the plant remained a problem.

Campbell said the cause of the fire was under investigation and damage totals were still being compiled late Tuesday.