Holladay neighbors assess damage, begin cleanup after dynamite detonation

Apr 24, 2024, 11:38 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2024, 6:06 pm

HOLLADAY — Neighbors in Holladay are figuring out what it’ll take to clean up and who’s paying for the damage, after a massive home explosion planned by hazmat crews detonating old dynamite.

Neighbors were finally allowed back into their homes Wednesday evening. They immediately wanted to know the effects of the fireball and felt grateful the entire situation was handled before it was too late.

Gary Williams, who lives next door to the house destroyed by the detonation, said he first evacuated Tuesday at noon. When he returned Wednesday evening, he walked around his yard as chunks of broken glass littered the grass. It appeared all of his basement windows blew out when a hazmat crew blew up the dynamite discovered in and around his neighbor’s home.

Through his fence, he could see the empty charred pit left behind, where suddenly smoke began to billow back up. Firefighters were called back out to douse the hot spot.

Williams said the neighbor who owned the dynamite, who Williams said passed away a couple of months ago, would tell Williams he was heading into the Uinta Mountains to use dynamite to cut down trees for his fireplace.

Williams said the neighbor apparently had the dynamite passed down to him from previous generations.

But Williams didn’t know the dynamite was kept in and around the home all those years. Other neighbors described the late homeowner as a chemist.

“I knew there was chemicals. I didn’t know about the dynamite, and the gunpowder,” Williams said. “And I guess there was a lot of dynamite.”

Only chimney remains after Utah house containing old dynamite, detonated in Holladay

Unified Fire Authority estimated there were about 50 sticks of dynamite, anywhere from 40 to 80 years old, in and around the house. UFA said the dynamite had crystalized, making it too dangerous to handle safely without risk of explosion.

Williams wasn’t sure how the detonation would impact his home, but it appeared to only hit the windows.

“Which surprises me, considering we’re actually the closest house to this house,” he said.

Robert Eliasoff lives on the other side of the home and down the street in a cul-de-sac.

Filming a walk-through on his cell phone, Eliasoff showed damage to his windows, porch, and front door. Crews were working on boarding up the blown-out windows Wednesday evening.

“Six windows need to be replaced, potential roof,” Eliasoff explained. “Because when it exploded, it dumped a lot of debris not only on our house, but it even made it further down in the neighborhood.”

Eliasoff and Williams said they’ve been directed to make claims with their homeowner’s insurance to pay for the damage. Williams said he has a $2,500 deductible he’ll need to pay out of pocket first. But at the end of the day, he’s feeling lucky.

“I’m really glad that the dynamite didn’t blow up before, because it would have taken a whole bunch of houses,” Williams said. “I’m really happy that didn’t happen.”

He also feels for the woman who lived in the home that’s now gone, who Williams said is the wife of the man who owned the dynamite. Williams described how she just lost her husband a couple of months ago and has now lost all her possessions. He believes she didn’t realize the danger lurking in her husband’s dynamite collection.

“It’s scary,” he said. “I really feel bad for his wife and what she’s going to have to go through. I mean, have the start all over again.”

A family member has set up a GoFundMe* to help the home’s owner.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Holladay neighbors assess damage, begin cleanup after dynamite detonation