BYU students seriously burned after firebomb accident

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Justin Smith

Four people were admitted  in critical condition to University Burn Center on Saturday after dropping gasoline bombs into a mine shaft.

A group of Brigham Young University students suffered serious burn injuries while dropping Molotov cocktails down a mine shaft near Eureka.  Ambulances transported a dozen individuals to area hospitals, Utah County sheriff’s Lieutenant Darren Gilbert said. Four individuals are still in the hospital and considered in critical condition.

“We are not releasing the names of those involved right now,” Gilbert said. “Criminal aspects are still under investigation including criminal mischief, reckless burning and trespassing.”

Three groups of people including a large group of BYU students were participating in pyrotechnics and dropping gasoline down the shaft Saturday night, Utah County sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon said. The Tintic Mining District shaft is a popular site for illegal pyrotechnics.

“They were dropping fireworks and small bombs into the shaft,” Cannon said. “About two to three gallons of gasoline was lit and kicked or spilled over.”

The fire spilled on the sides of the shaft and burned up the shaft inflicting injuries on the individuals sitting on the grated shaft cap. Some of the participants were sitting on the grate with their legs hanging down when the gasoline was spilled over.

“I heard rumor that there may have been up to 30 individuals there,” Gilbert said. “I met with the ambulances in Syracuse; 12 individuals were transported by ambulance that night.”

Vickie King, executive assistant of public affairs at University of Utah Healthcare, spoke about some of the patients.

“Six patients were admitted,” she said. “Two have  been treated and released and four are still in critical condition.”

“Those involved are very fortunate that no one was killed,” Cannon said. “Several years ago we had a rash of students participating and we issued a number of citations. There is a weird attraction to kids to participate.”

Craig Foster, 25, a senior studying anthropology, said he has participated in dropping explosives down the shaft.

“My friends invited me to go to the fire hole with them a few summers back,” Foster said. “Their trunk was full of milk jugs and bottles of gasoline. When we got to the hole, which is covered by a large open grate, we ripped up t-shirts and stuffed them in the jugs. We lit them and threw the jugs to the bottom where they would explode and send fire up the shaft. It didn’t really seem dangerous. It was really fun.”

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