Uncapped, abandoned gas line caused Firestone home explosion
An abandoned, severed gas line that was still connected to a nearby oil and gas well was at the root of a deadly home explosion in Firestone on April 17, investigators announced Tuesday afternoon.
Ted Poszywak, chief of the Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District, said the cut line allowed an unrefined odorless mixture of propane, methane and other elements of gas to seep into the home through drains and a sump pit in the basement.
The April 17 blast at 6312 Twilight Ave. in Firestone killed brothers-in-law Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin III, both 42, and critically injured Erin Martinez, Mark Martinez’s wife who is a science teacher at Mountain Range High School.
The couple’s 11-year-old son was also hurt, although he was released from the hospital the same day and is with family.
The oil and gas well that is located about 170 feet from the home was first drilled in 1993. Originally, two lines – one two inches in diameter, one an inch in diameter – curved away from the well to the northwest toward a battery of oil tanks.
Those tanks were removed years ago. In 2015, construction was completed on the Martinez home. It may have been during construction that the two lines – located about seven feet below ground – were severed near the southwest corner of the home’s foundation.
From that point on, the volatile mix of gases was apparently seeping into the soil around the Martinez home and eventually leaked into the home through drains and window wells in the basement.
About 4:45 p.m. on April 17, something ignited the gas, and the resulting explosion demolished the home and shook the ground for blocks in every direction.