A family who lives next door to a Firestone, Colorado, house that exploded because of an uncapped underground natural gas pipeline filed a lawsuit May 15, seeking damages from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and other companies they allege are responsible for the fatal incident.
On April 17, brothers-in-law Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin were working on a water heater in the basement of the Martinez home when an accumulation of gas that had seeped into the home from a nearby well ignited.
The ensuing explosion killed both Mr. Martinez and Mr. Irwin. Erin Martinez, Mark Martinez’s wife and child survived with traumatic burn injuries.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Jeffrey and Karla Baum and their three children, says the explosion and the potential presence of other Anadarko flowlines mean that there is no guarantee their home and possibly and others in the Oak Meadows subdivision are safe.
“Plaintiffs personally witnessed the explosion and the after effects of the explosion site,” the lawsuit says, according to The (Longmont, Colorado) Times-Call. “Plaintiffs have also personally witnessed the current and ongoing investigation into the unidentified gas sources, all of which has created a reasonable fear and apprehension in plaintiffs as to the safety of the residence.”
Investigators determined that the explosion was the result of odorless gas from a severed underground pipeline entering the Martinez home through French drains and a sump pit in the basement. “The 1-inch diameter line thought to have been abandoned remained connected to an active well now owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation that came within 178 feet of the leveled house,” the Times-Call reported.
Lawyers for the Baum family say that there could be multiple other unmapped flow lines under the Oak Meadows neighborhood. Therefore, the Baum family and others in the neighborhood, they allege, can’t be assured that their home won’t explode unexpectedly.
The lawsuit seeks damages for physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, mental anguish and severe anxiety, damages to personal and real property, interference with their use and enjoyment of the property, annoyance, discomfort and inconvenience, loss of peace of mind, and diminution of real estate property value, according to the Times-Call.
The Baums allege the land developer and homebuilder failed to protect the neighborhood from the risks and hazards of oil and gas drilling activity and that flow lines run within close proximity to the homes.
They also accuse Anadarko and Noble Energy Inc. of negligence for failing to monitor and confirm the well before they activated it.
They also claim nuisance caused by an invasive investigation and not knowing whether their home is safe from a potential gas explosion, and trespass because the flow lines still exist in the neighborhood, which means gas could still be migrating from the well.
In addition to Anadarko, the lawsuit names Noble Energy, ST-Firestone LLC, and home builders Hearth at Oak Meadows LLC and CC Communities LLC.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that many more lawsuits from those in the community are likely.