Police seek culprits after manhole explosions cause thousands of dollars in damage in Alpine

Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-17 00:04:23-04

ALPINE, Utah -- The Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the Alpine City Public Works administrators are working together to find whomever burned the inside of six of the county’s manholes.

It happened in the northeast area of Alpine, where the city is building new homes. The six manholes sit along a new road called Oak Hill.

Some construction workers spotted a gas can alongside of one of the manholes two weeks ago, and they noticed gasoline had been poured into one of the manholes.

Then, a couple of weeks later, they noticed it happened again. They said it looked like one of the manhole lids had been impacted by an explosion from underneath, because there were markings where the manhole lid landed on the road.

“It appears they've dumped gas on the asphalt, let it run down… see where it's run down inside this concrete manhole?” explained Alpine City Mayor Sheldon Wimmer.

Alpine Public Works Director Shane Sorensen said the culprits may consider it a prank, but the damage is nothing to laugh about.

“If I was guessing, it's kids trying to have fun, but it's a situation where hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sewer structure is lost,” he said.

Sorensen and Sgt. Spencer Cannon of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said the damage could be up to $20,000 per manhole. Plus, if there is fire damage to the infrastructure that leads to Utah Lake, that would burn a big hole through the county and city’s budgets.

There is a $1,500 reward for anyone who has information that could lead to an arrest. Non emergency dispatch for Utah County can be reached at 801-794-3970.