Crews detail preparations for demolition of Provo smokestacks

Posted at 10:07 PM, Aug 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-21 00:07:35-04

PROVO, Utah – The Provo skyline will change for good on Sunday when a pair of smokestacks built decades ago are demolished.

Taking the structures down is a tall order, and Todd Tanner spoke to the experts about their plan.

“We use explosives to fell chimneys, boilers, buildings, bridges—just about anything built by man and perpendicular to the horizon,” said Thom Doud, a senior project manager with Controlled Demolition Incorporated.

Doud travels the world to locations where the old must make way for the new, and the pair of towers in Provo, each about 200-feet tall, are his latest stop.

“We just took down the last three structures of the Riviera Hotel,” he said.

Doud and his crew also imploded the Key Bank building in Salt Lake City back in 2007, an event that came with a small surprise.

“That’s actually a structure that, in my 25 years, is the only time we've shot early,” he said. “We were going for 7 or 8 a.m. that morning, we had storms coming through, so we hurried up with the police and fire department, all the local authorities. We determined it would be best to get the structure on the ground before the weather came in, and we moved right ahead.”

Weather isn't expected to be an issue in Provo Sunday.

“We're gonna put them on the ground first thing Sunday morning,” Doud said.

Preparations took place earlier in the week, and the bases of the stacks were weakened. Notches cut into the base will help guide the fall. Saturday, explosives were placed in pre-drilled holes.

Scott Bunker, Assistant Director for Provo Power, said they decided to be proactive about the stacks.

“We decided it would be better to be in control when they did come down, and figured it was wiser for the public safety to do it now,” he said.

He said he wishes the stacks could have stuck around, but three sets of engineers have warned them they wouldn't withstand a moderate to major earthquake.

When asked if Sunday would bring tears or joy, Bunker said: “Probably a little bit of both, but I think more than anything, I think it will be an overriding sense of relief.”

The demolition is set to begin at 7 a.m., and you can watch the process unfold live on Good Day Utah, which begins at 6 a.m.