FIRESTONE, Colo. — Two days after an explosion leveled a home in Firestone, killing two people and critically injuring one, investigators are still trying to determine a cause.
Friends said the bodies of Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joey Irwin were found in the rubble of the home Tuesday.
Martinez’s wife Erin remains hospitalized. It was a neighbor and a construction crew that was working nearby who might have saved her life.
“They were sitting here on the porch putting on their Rollerblades and they were going to head over. That’s when the explosion happened,” Ben Chapman said.
He lives across the street from the Martinez home.
With his children getting ready to cross the street to play with a friend, Chapman realizes the difference that seconds make.
“Seconds literally separated our kids from being on the front porch ringing the doorbell,” he said.
It was Chapman who then ran over, yelling to his neighbors he knew were inside when the home exploded.
“We heard her screaming right away,” Chapman said.
A crew of construction workers also rushed over.
“The forklift came smashing through the fence right after everything,” Chapman said.
They found 39-year-old Erin Martinez pinned under the collapsed roof.
“She was in there kind of deeper than the forklift could reach so we were all in there just kind of pulling boards and drywall chunks, and just trying to free her manually,” Chapman said, saying the flames at that point were inching toward them.
“I jumped over our neighbor’s fence here and turned on his hose and just started spraying water as much as I could, but it grew so fast. The fire was just uncontrollable,” he said.
Red marks show where Chapman’s arms are singed. Yet he and the crew of workers stayed in long enough to get Erin Martinez out of the burning, crumbled structure.
“They were able to get the forks in there finally and free her out just in time before the fire reached her,” Chapman said. “They saved a life that day and without them there, there’s no way she would have made it out. There’s no way.”
Chapman won’t take any credit for his actions.
“Its nice to see a community come together so strongly. It makes me proud, you know, to be here,” Chapman said.
It might be weeks before investigators determine what caused the explosion.
In the meantime, by Wednesday more than $70,000 had been raised for the Martinez and Irwin families. Friends said they have a long road to recovery ahead.