VERNAL — A fire at a propane distribution company in Vernal led to the evacuation of homes and businesses and shut down U.S. Highway 40 for two hours Tuesday.

The fire started in a storage building at Basin Propane Systems, 1477 E. 500 South, about 10:30 a.m. The building held scores of five-gallon propane tanks, according to Uintah Fire District Executive Director Jeremy Raymond.

"We did have initial reports of explosions," Raymond said. "Upon our arrival, we did not see any explosions. Some of the tanks did vent (through) the release vents, but while we were here, we didn't have any tanks … explode."

Concerns that the fire could reach industrial-size storage tanks of propane prompted fire officials and police to evacuate all businesses and homes within a half-mile of the burning building. It also led to the temporary closure of U.S. 40, Raymond said.

It took fire crews, working in subzero temperatures, about two hours to bring the blaze under control.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation. The estimated cost of the damage was not known, Raymond said.

Geoff Liesik

Twitter: GeoffLiesik