Air conditioning exploded — not a bomb — under a Utah legislative candidate’s car

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Robert Burch, pictured with genealogical research in 2017, is a legislative candidate in West Valley City who reported to police that an explosive device was left under his car and detonated, but did not injure anyone in his family. An investigation later determined the incident was caused by the vehicle's air conditioning system.

It turns out that an explosive device did not detonate under the car of a Utah leglislative candidate. It was actually what police now say was a “catastrophic failure” of his air conditioning system.

Robert Burch, who is running for state House District 30, had filed a report on June 2 saying that after his wife backed their car out of the family garage, he opened the back hatch and heard a loud boom — also heard by many of his neighbors.

After the dust cleared, Burch gathered cloth and plastic remnants from under the car and took them to a mechanic to see if they were from the vehicle. When he was told they were not, he took them to West Valley City Police and reported the incident — and questioned whether someone targeted him because of his political campaign.

On Tuesday, the police department said that after an investigation assisted by the FBI, the debris “has been found to be the result of a catastrophic failure of the vehicle’s air conditioning system, which resulted in the explosion.”

It added, “We are grateful that no one was injured and that we have been able to assist the Burch family in determining that this incident was caused by an auto part malfunction and not an explosive device.”