On April 17th, a home in Firestone, CO (30 miles north of Denver) exploded—killing two people and leaving a third severely burned. Yesterday, investigators revealed that the cause of the explosion was a gas leak from a nearby well, which seeped unrefined, odorless gas into the basement of the home. The well was taken out of service, but the pipe attached to the well was not sealed.
Instead, the pipe was cut about 10 feet from the home. In Firestone, the minimum distance is 150 feet.
According to well regulations, the lines are supposed to be sealed at both ends and all flammable materials removed when a well is taken out of service. Regulators are unsure who was responsible for sealing the well correctly, although Anadarko was listed as the current owner of the well. Investigators are unsure if the pipe was left connected or if it was disconnected and reconnected at a later date.
The two men who were killed in the explosion were in the basement working on the water heater when it happened. While we don’t know much yet about why the well was allowed to seep gas into a nearby home, we do know one thing: according to Ted Poszywak, chief of the Frederick-Firestone fire department, the two men are not at fault.
According to the official record, the well was last inspected in 2014—and given a satisfactory rating.
Immediate Action to Protect the People of Colorado
Governor John Hickenlooper immediately ordered inspections of all active and abandoned gas lines with 1,000 feet of occupied buildings. These inspections will include pressure tests to ensure that all seals are functional and safe. The state will also be investigating any violations of regulatory laws with regard to the malfunctioning line. Anadarko is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
As for the line that caused the explosion, it has been correctly sealed, and no homes in the vicinity are in any danger.
Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the three victims of this explosion. We hope for a full recovery for the victim who suffered burns in the explosion, and we are confident that investigators discover who is responsible and bring them to justice.