An 8-year-old boy died yesterday and nine other people were in critical condition with burns suffered in a giant propane explosion that sent a wall of fire through a campground, forcing 3,000 persons to flee their homes.

Officials of Buckeye Gas Products said a lightning bold knocked down a power pole Friday night, severing a gas line at the company's Moab storage facility. Thousands of gallons of pressurized fuel spewed into the Slickrock Campground a few yards away where it was ignited by campfires.

The campground was engulfed by a ball of flame that burned three trailers, two cars and some tents. Two small boys were burned in their sleeping bags.

One of them, Michael Davies, 8, Montrose, Colo., died after he was airlifted to the Intermountain Burn Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Sheriff Jim Nyland ordered 3,000 Moab residents to evacuate their homes. He feared the fire might blow up 50,000 barrels of liquid propane in a underground salt cavern beneath the campground.

Meanwhile, in Austin, Tex., a mixture of "extremely explosive" propane and butane gas spewed from a pipeline broken by construction crews for 10 hours yesterday, forcing 1,000 families to stay out of their homes overnight.