FIRESTONE, Colo. — The deadly home explosion and fire in Firestone last month was caused by gas that entered the home through a cut, abandoned flow line from a well, investigators said.
The operators of the deadly well have changed hands four times over the years.
It’s not known who is responsible for the broken line, but residents are concerned about what’s beneath the homes.
The explosion and fire happened about 4:45 p.m. on April 17 in the 6300 block of Twilight Avenue.
The uncapped, abandoned line was less than 200 feet from the foundation of the home.
“Investigators have reached the conclusion that the origin and cause of the explosion and subsequent fire that destroyed the Martinez home and damaged the neighboring home resulting in the deaths of Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin and the severe injury to Erin Martinez was unrefined, non-odorized gas that entered the home through a French Drain and Sump Pit due to a cut, abandoned gas flow line attached to an oil and gas well in the vicinity that, while abandoned, had not been disconnected from the wellhead and capped,” firefighters said in a statement.
The ownership of the well has changed hands over the past 30-plus years.
In 1982, Gerrity Oil started with four wells in the Wattenberg Field of Colorado’s Denver-Julesburg basin, which covers Weld, Adams, Broomfield and Boulder counties.
In May 1996, Gerrity Oil and Gas became subsidiary of Patina Oil and Gas.
Patina, from its inaugural day, became the largest operator in Wattenberg, responsible for producing more than 30 percent of the field’s production.
Within a 40-mile radius, Patina held financial stakes in 3,550 producing wells and, perhaps more impressive, maintained operational control over 95 percent of the wells in which it retained an interest.
More than 95 percent of the wells drilled at Wattenberg became producers, a success rate that made drilling there a low-risk venture in a high-risk industry.
Noble Energy, headquartered in Houston, bought Patina in 2005. The company’s primary holdings are in Wattenberg Field and a basin in Delaware.
In 2015, Noble settled a claim by the Environmental Protection Agency that its battery tanks were emitting noxious gasses. The company paid $1,475,000 to the state of Colorado.
In 2006, Anadarko Petroleum bought Kerr McGee for $18 billion. In January 2015, Anadarko paid $5.15 billion to a trust for settlement proceeds in New York district case for settlements in 2,700 sites in 47 states.
In 2016, 103,367,070 barrels of oil were produced in Weld County.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called for a statewide review of oil and gas operations.