Backhoe damaged pipe, led to natural gas explosion

SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators say a backhoe damaged a high-pressure line and led to a natural gas explosion in Carbon County that injured two workers.

A deputy state fire marshal tells KSL score marks were visible where backhoe teeth damaged the 12-inch pipe at a natural-gas processing plant 30 miles northeast of Price.

Sixty-two-year-old Larry Joseph of Vernal remains in critical condition after being burned in Tuesday morning’s explosion at the plant owned by Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp. His 31-year-old co-worker Doug Jenkins was in fair condition.

Deputy state fire marshal Troy Mills says the damaged pipe was the weak link and tore open like an aluminum can.

The explosion blew a deep crater in the ground and directed a stream of pressurized natural gas into one of the compressor station’s buildings.