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1st Anniversary Of Firestone Explosion Nears; Residents Want More Action

By Michael Abeyta

FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) - It has almost been a full year since gas seeped into the ground from a well in Firestone causing a home to explode.

"I saw a flame, and I just knew it was my block," said Fran Hoylman, a neighbor on the same street.

Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin were killed in a home explosion in Firestone in 2017. (credit: CBS)

The nightmare-like memories are still fresh in Hoylman's mind. She still remembers the way she felt after the explosion shook her neighborhood and killed her neighbor.

"The fire, the way it just kind of lifted up and burned. It was just devastating," said Hoylman.

Mark Martinez
Mark Martinez (credit: Carbon Valley Parks & Recreation District)

On April 17, 2017, a house on Twilight Avenue exploded when its owner Mark Martinez and his brother-in-law Joseph Irwin were replacing a water heater in the home.

Subsequent investigation revealed the cause of the explosion to be gas that seeped into the home due to a severed and uncapped flow line from a well, owned by Anadarko, less than 200 feet away.

(credit: CBS)

"Does anybody really truly know the impact that it has on a family? A neighborhood? There's just nobody listening," Hoylman said.

FIRESTONE EXPLOSION.transfer_frame_930
(credit: CBS)

In response, Gov. Hickenlooper ordered all of Colorado's wells be inspected, and Anadarko announced it would permanently disconnect all one-inch flow lines from vertical wells and would permanently shut down the well that caused the explosion.

They also gave residents in the neighborhood methane-detecting equipment for their homes. In addition, earlier this year, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, local communities, home developers and oil and gas companies, including Anadarko, developed new flow line rules intended to keep Coloradans safe.

(credit: CBS)

Even with all of that, Hoylman still feels more needs to be done.

"A lot of us want setbacks to be increased. Funds for the damaged area" she said. "There's a lot of wells that are just orphan wells and we want them decommissioned properly."

FIRESTONE EXPLOSION.transfer_frame_2160
(credit: CBS)

In response to questions about the stringency of regulation of wells in the state of Colorado, Anadarko released a statement:

"Colorado has been recognized for its robust oil and gas regulations, which are viewed as some of the most stringent in the nation. Since the accident, we worked with a broad collection of stakeholders, including home developers, agriculture, communities, government officials and others to strengthen the regulations even further by cooperatively working with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) during a rulemaking process."

LINK: COGCC Flow Line Rulemaking

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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