Over 3,000 oil wells shuttered after Firestone home explosion

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 00:34:36-04

FIRESTONE, Colo. — A Houston-based company announced just over a week after a fatal home explosion in Firestone, Colorado that it would shutter production from 3,000 vertical oil wells in the area. 

"Words cannot express how saddened we are that this occurred in a community where many of our employees, their families, and friends live and work," Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Al Walker said. "We share the community's gratitude for the courageous response of neighbors and nearby construction crews who quickly came to the aid of the family, as well as the first responders and others who made sure surrounding homes were kept safe." 

Anadarko confirmed the company operates 3,000 units of an older-model vertical well. One such unit, drilled by a previous operator in 1993, is just 200 feet from the site where a home that recently exploded was recently built.

The bodies of two community members were pulled from the rubble days after the April 17 explosion. Two others continue to recover in a hospital.

MORE | Learn about the explosion in this story. 

The community poured out support for those involved in the fire, raising well over $100,000 to pay for funeral costs, clothes, food and hospital bills. 

Firestone Fire Department officials and investigators have not yet given any indication as to what contributed to the explosion and subsequent fire. However, Anadarko officials say they're closing off production out of an abundance of caution. 

"The wells will remain shut in until the company's field personnel can conduct additional inspections and testing of the associated equipment, such as facilities and underground lines associated with each wellhead," a release by Anadarko read.

Shuttering the wells and investigating is expected to take roughly between two to four weeks, costing the company about 13,000 barrels of oil per day. 

"Colorado residents must feel safe in their own homes, and I want to be clear that we are committed to understanding all that we can about this tragedy as we work with each investigating agency until causes can be determined," Brad Holly, Anadarko senior vice president of U.S. onshore exploration and production, said. 

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which is also investigating the Firestone home explosion, said it has been actively investigating since a day after the explosion. 

"COGCC is directing environmental sampling and inspecting oil and gas well in the vicinity, including an Anadarko oil and gas operation located approximately 170 feet southeast of the property, and reviewing their history," a COGCC representative wrote in a statement. 

The Frederick-Firestone Fire Protection District confirmed investigations are far from being completed, noting investigators expect the investigation to be complex.

"Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are poured out to the family of Joey Irwin and Mark Martinez (the two victims)," Fire Chief for the FFFPD Theodore Poszywak said. "We are fully engaged in this investigation to a final determination unimpeded by speculation to bring honor and any closure possible to the family and our community.  It is vital to note that as a top priority, officials have determined there is no threat to surrounding homes and have been in contact with nearby residents."

Meanwhile, some people who live in the area are not convinced.

"That could have been us, which is scary," said Mickey San Miguel, who used to live in the neighborhood and now campaigns against oil and gas wells in neighborhoods. "How many more explosions do we need to have before something is done?"

The investigation continues, and Denver7 will update this story as more is learned. 

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