Three teenagers severely burned in explosion up American Fork Canyon

May 23, 2023, 6:10 PM | Updated: 7:13 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — A tragic and devastating fireball explosion sent three teens to the hospital in Utah County. All three were severely burned across their body.

According to investigators, the teens: two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old, were up American Fork Canyon when they doused the Silverlake Flat Reservoir spillway with gasoline and then lit it on fire. That caused a fireball explosion burning the boys.

“They were burned all over. Primarily face arms and maybe legs. And they were driving themselves to the hospital,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.

All three students go to Lehi High School. The Alpine school district released a statement stating, “Our thoughts are with these students and their families as they recover.”

Sgt. Cannon says the spillway is about nine feet high and about the same amount wide. “It is horizontal at the top, where the water enters the spillway. It then goes on a downward angle of maybe 45 degrees for approximately 200 feet.”

Sgt. Cannon doesn’t believe there was very much water coming into the spillway or very little water. He says when the boys lit it, “it completely filled that eight or nine-foot rectangle tunnel with flames which came back at them.”

“Whether these young men got gasoline on them and that burned or whether the flames themselves cause the burn injuries the notes say they were burned all over,” he said.

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Three teenagers severely burned in explosion up American Fork Canyon