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Couple injured in boiler explosion ‘responding well to treatment’


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Pocatello firefighters respond to the First Congregational United Church of Christ on North Garfield Avenue Tuesday afternoon after a boiler at the church exploded, seriously burning two people. | Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — A local woman injured in a boiler explosion at a historic Old Town Pocatello church this week was in critical condition Wednesday, and her husband, who was also hurt, was in fair condition, according to hospital officials in Salt Lake City.

Norm and Kathy Wright, of American Falls, were performing maintenance on the boiler at the First Congregational United Church of Christ on North Garfield when it exploded about 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

The blast hurled Norm out of the boiler room and into an adjacent hallway, where witnesses said they found him calling for help.

Kathy, who was badly burned, was found under a door outside the church near the exterior doorway to the boiler room.

The couple’s son, Greydon Wright, was still waiting to learn the full extent of his parent’s injuries on Wednesday, but said they were both doing better than he expected.

“They’re both responsive and they’re actually responding well to treatment,” he said, adding that doctors are hopeful.

Greydon said they have received calls, texts and emails from family and friends.

“It’s been overwhelming and really nice,” he said.

The Pocatello Fire Department has not released the official cause of the explosion. But firefighters and people who had been in the church when the incident occurred speculated that it have been caused by natural gas present in the boiler.

The Wrights were transported to Portneuf Medical Center on Tuesday before being airlifted by two emergency helicopters to the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City.

Although there were six other people at the church when the blast happened, none were hurt.

The church, however, sustained significant interior damage. Doors were blown off their hinges, ceiling light fixtures fell to the floor and plaster walls in the sanctuary cracked, among other damage.

Church officials say the building, which is insured, will remain closed for at least two weeks until the damage can be fixed. Meantime, Sunday morning services will take place in the adjacent church parsonage.

This article was originally published in the Idaho State Journal. It is used here with permission.