A mine explosion claimed the life of a Vernal man Wednesday and critically injured two others.
Killed was:Rick Bildey, 36.
Bildey was welding a grate on a mine shaft vent tube at the White River Oil Shale Project about 4:30 p.m. when the shaft exploded, said Uintah County Sheriff Robert Vanderbusse.
Tom Justice, 55, and Glen Kurtz, 65, both of Roosevelt, were working on a front-end loader a few feet outside the shaft at the time of the explosion.
Rescue crews rushed in to save the trio, but Bildey was already dead, said Vanderbusse. Justice and Kurtz suffered cuts and burns and were rushed to the Ashley Valley Medical Center, where they were listed Thursday in critical condition.
Officials are uncertain what sparked the explosion but say methane and other lethal gases may have been present. Investigative teams from the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) arrived Thursday.
The White River Oil Shale Project, about 45 miles southeast of Vernal, has been closed for several years, said Vanderbusse.
Crews have recently been on the site to seal the mine and conduct oil shale experiments.