Vernal propane plant fire damages exceed $250K
Uintah County • Electrical heater suspected as cause.
Published: January 16, 2013 01:30PM
Updated: January 28, 2013 03:26PM
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Courtesy photo Authorities respond to a fire at Basin Propane in Vernal on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.

A fire that caused more than $250,000 in damage to a Vernal propane distribution plant may have been ignited by an electrical space-heating device.

However, Uintah Fire District Chief Jeremy Raymond said that his investigation officially will list the cause of the Tuesday afternoon blaze at Basin Propane Systems as “undetermined.”

“There were infrared heaters inside the shop at the time of the fire and we think they could have initially caused the fire,” Raymond said Wednesday. “But we just don’t have sufficient evidence” to make an official determination.

Raymond said any further investigation likely will be done by Basin Propane’s insurers.

Calls to Basin Propane’s offices seeking comment were not returned.

The blaze at 1447 E. 500 South in Vernal was reported Tuesday at 10:32 a.m. and was out by 2 p.m. In between those times, a precautionary evacuation of the company site and a half-mile radius around the business was in effect.

The fire was contained to the shop building and did not spread to large propane tanks on the property outside the structure.

U.S. 40, which passes within about 400 feet of the fire scene, also was shut down for about three 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.

remims@sltrib.com