Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 22, 2021
Wellhouse explosion rocks northwest Tooele Valley

Leaking propane tank ignited earthshaking blast 

It might not have been the “shot heard ‘round the world,” but shock waves from an explosion in Erda Wednesday night were felt as far away as Tooele City.

Social media accounts in Tooele County lit up with questions and explanations about a bomb exploding, sonic booms from Air Force jets, a plane crash, earthquakes and other possible explanations as residents near ground zero reported a blast that shook and rattled their homes.

The cause — a slowly leaking propane tank in a well house in Erda.

The explosion occurred around midnight on Wednesday near the Tooele Valley Airport, according to Randy Wilden, North Tooele County Fire Department chief.

“When our first crew arrived on scene, they saw some smoke but not really any fire at all,” Wilden said about the well house. “The owner took us to the backyard where his pump house is located and the pump house was kind of a concrete structure. The explosion was so strong that it broke some of the concrete. It also blew a barrel out of a building and struck the back of his garage. The steel door of the building was blown out. It was a very violent explosion.”

Firefighters found a small fire inside the wellhouse and quickly put out the fire, according to Wilden.

While putting out the fire, the crew heard a “light hissing sound” and they found a propane tank in the building that had a small leak.

Upon investigation, the fire department found that the owner of the well house had put several propane tanks in his well house earlier the day before and one was slowly leaking.

“The propane probably filled the pump house and at night when the electric motor in the well kicked on, it created a spark and that set off the propane and caused the explosion,” Wilden said.

Damage to the pump house was substantial and damage to the garage wasn’t recorded, according to Wilden.  

The explosion was so large that it was recorded on one of the University of Utah’s seismograph machines, according to Wilden.

“There were over 200 posts about the incident,” said Wilden.


Tim Gillie

Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim has been writing for the Transcript Bulletin since October 2017. In February 2019 he was named as editor. In addition to being editor, Tim continues to write about Tooele County government, education, business, real estate, housing, politics and the state Legislature.A native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University, Tim became a journalist after a 20 year career with the Boy Scouts of America.

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