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R-Y Timber explosion survivor recounts events

“I hit the start button for the planner and there’s just an explosion,” said Coil. “A big ball of flames.”
Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 11:06:11-05

LIVINGSTON — It’s been four months since R-Y Timber in Livingston went up in flames, destroying a planner building and leaving one employee with severe burns. After a long road to recovery, he’s finally back.

September 12 was just a normal Monday morning at work for Steve Coil, but now, he says it’s a day he’ll never forget.

“I’m still struggling a little bit,” said Coil. “Every once in a while, I’ll have a nightmare or something.”

Coil got to work early that day at about 6 AM to make sure everything was up and running. The sun was not even up yet.

“I hit the start button for the planner and there’s just an explosion,” said Coil. “A big ball of flames.”

Coil says everything went pitch black after that.

“Oh, I remember screaming for my life,” said Coil. The next thing I know, this guy is dragging me out of there.”

Abram Ziegler and Coil were the only two employees working in the building that morning. After the explosion, Ziegler says he ran out the door…that was until he heard his friend shouting for help.

“I just grabbed my phone and used my flashlight,” said Ziegler. "I grabbed him by the leg, and I said, ‘dude we gotta get out of here man.’ And his shoulder was on fire when I found him.”

Coil was life-flighted to the Salt Lake City burn unit where he stayed for 28 days.

“I had two surgeries,” said Coil. “One skin graft on the back of my hand and on the back of my arm here.”

The freak accident, caused by an electrical spark and dust explosion, was traumatic enough for Coil, but this wasn’t his buddy’s first-time facing flames. Zeigler was burned at age 15 on his leg.

“I went through a mental struggle going back in there, but it's Steve, he’s a cool guy,” said Ziegler.

Dan Richards, the general manager said the whole experience has brought their crew of 86 together.

“It was like a bunch of individuals forming a real team…a bond,” said Richards.

There is relief, looking back on September when there was uncertainty over the fate of R-Y and its employees. That was until they were given the green light to rebuild. No one lost their job.

“And we’re quite excited about that,” said Richards.

Coil starts work next week, but he’s been stopping by periodically to check out all the new equipment and see his guys.

“I just want to thank Abram,” said Coil. “If he wouldn’t have been there, who knows, I could’ve died back there or something.”