Cut, Abandoned Gas Line Caused Fatal House Fire in Colorado

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By Tripp Baltz

A cut, abandoned gas flow line that had not been disconnected from a nearby wellhead and capped was the cause of an explosion and fire at a home in Firestone, Colo., that killed two men and critically injured a woman, officials said.

After the findings were released May 2, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) ordered all oil and gas operators in the state to inspect and pressure test existing oil and gas flow lines within 1,000 feet of occupied buildings. The state’s required setback, the minimum distance required between occupied buildings and wellheads, is 500 feet.

Unrefined, non-odorized gas entered the home through a French drain and sump pit from the cut flow line attached to the oil and natural gas well 178 feet away, investigators with the Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District said May 2. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which owned and operated the well, took the step of shutting down all 3,000 of its vertical wells in the nearby Denver-Julesburg basin after the April 17 incident.

Because of that shutdown and the halt in production of the predominantly natural gas well, no additional contamination risk or danger exists to homes in the Oak Meadows neighborhood where the explosion occurred, the fire protection district said.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which has been assisting the district in the investigation, was scheduled to give a briefing about the incident later May 2. The district said it has turned over the matter to the Firestone Police Department as an official death investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tripp Baltz in Denver at abaltz@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at PConnolly@bna.com

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