Firestone family too frightened to live in own home

FIRESTONE, Colo. -- Juan and Rita Esquivel are expecting their first child in early July.

With numerous sonogram pictures displayed in front of them, they proudly announced that they are “90 percent set on Julian” as their first son’s name.

The Esquivels got married about a year ago and chose Firestone as the place to plant their roots and start a family.

But a deadly home explosion down the block from their new home quickly changed their plans.

The explosion was caused by gas that entered the home through a cut, abandoned flow line from a nearby gas well, investigators said.

A week before a neighborhood meeting with Anadarko, the company that owns the oil and gas well closest to the deadly home explosion, the Esquivels chose to move out of their home.

“After taking into consideration everything that was happening, obviously, we felt like we were at risk,” Juan Esquivel said. “Obviously, with our first child on the way, we weren’t going to take any risks.”

The Esquivels moved in with Rita’s mother and sister in a small apartment in Broomfield.

On May 24, they were in Firestone for the HOA meeting with Anadarko.

At that meeting they were informed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission that their home was just feet away from an underground pocket of methane gas.

“To see some gas plume that size with those concentration levels so close to our backyard really triggered us to take action right away,” Juan Esquivel said.

The COGC is in the process of mitigating the underground gas pockets from the neighborhood. But the Esquivels say they have a hard time trusting what Anadarko or the state’s oil and gas commission is telling them.

“If they are trying to be transparent, if they are trying to really keep us informed, then that tells me we went about two or three weeks without knowing about that second (gas pocket) when they might have known about it,” Juan Esquivel said. “What’s to say we couldn’t have ignited that plume?”

The two-bedroom apartment the Esquivels are sharing with two relatives and their husky dog is quickly filling up with baby shower gifts.

A new addition will soon be added to the family, but the future remains uncertain.

“We’re just not sure how far (the gas) has penetrated our home, our property, how much have we been exposed to, how much have we been breathing in,” Juan Esquivel said. “We can’t comfortably say it’s a safe level.”

While safety remains their biggest concern, the value of their family-starting investment is also on their minds.

“Myself, my wife, we feel that we don’t want to expose ourselves to those dangers and risks. We don’t want to expose our first born child to those risks,” Juan Esquivel said.

"We don’t want a family moving in there because we can’t comfortably say you’re going to be safe here.”