MOAB — Two men were electrocuted Saturday and a third man was critically injured in an industrial accident in Grand County.
The three men were working at the Intrepid potash plant south of Moab in northern San Juan County when the industrial equipment they were operating touched a power line, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office reported.
The incident occurred just after noon.
Two men, Russell Helquist and Matthew Johnston, were pronounced dead at the scene. The third victim, Arthur Secrest, was found unconscious but breathing, according to the sheriff's office. Their ages were not released.
Secrest was flown to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City in critical condition, according to Grand County Emergency Medical Services.
All three men were living in the Moab area. No other details were provided about the incident.
'Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of these good men," the sheriff's office said in a statement.
Matt Preston, with Intrepid's investor relations, said in a statement that the company's corporate crisis management team contacted authorities and the cause of the accident is under investigation.
"Operations at the Moab facility have been suspended pending the initial investigation. Intrepid expresses its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those involved," he said.
Multiple police and fire agencies responded to what was initially reported as an explosion at the plant.
The Grand County Sheriff's Office, along with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, Grand County EMS and Moab Valley Fire Department responded to the incident on state Route 279. Authorities advised people to avoid the area.
Intrepid manufactures fertilizer and is the country's largest producer of potassium chloride. The Denver-based company operates three solar evaporation mines — two in Utah in Wendover and Moab, and a third in Carlsbad, New Mexico, according to its website.Comment on this story
Potash minerals, which are water-soluble potassium salts, are commonly used as fertilizer and by the chemical industry for various products, including glass, ceramics and soap. Economically viable deposits of these type of minerals are rare, with Grand County being one of the few producers in the state and nation.
According to the Bureau of Land Management, there is an estimated 2 billion tons of potash in the Paradox Basin. Potassium chloride specifically is a white crystal or crystalline powder used in buffer solutions for pH, fertilizer and explosives.
Contributing: Jasen Lee