In the summer of 2007, methane seeped from Ben Bounds domestic well in Huerfano County and exploded inside his pump house. The explosion lifted the pump-house roof off the frame and melted or singed everything inside.

A few days later, a state inspector with a methane detector investigated the Bounds property at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. " When he opened the door to the garage, the detector went absolutely crazy ," says Mr. Bounds.

While 50 methane drilling wells and active hydraulic fracturing operations are nearby, a lack of independent monitoring and testing has made it impossible to prove that fracking created pathways for methane to collect in Bound s' s domestic water system.

Bounds and his family immediately evacuated the home, and the y' ve had to evacuate many times since when detectors Bounds installed signaled the presence of methane.

The state advised that Bounds not allow his grandchildren or any visitors to come to the property, and his insurance company has threatened to drop coverage. He has thought about simply abandoning the home since he could not in good conscience sell the property.

Type: WATER WELL Date: 10/28/2009
Complainant: Claude DeGraw 31559 CR 40 Trinidad CO 81082
Description of Complaint: Mr. DeGraw reported that a fire had occurred at the top of the casing to his domestic well. A neighbor reported the fire to local fire department who extinguished.
COGCC Response:
Mr. DeGraw met Mr. Gintautas along the route to his home. Handheld RKI gas detector readings indicated approximately 100% CH4 was venting from the well along with 50-60ppm H2S. Estimate of flow by garbage bag technique was 20-30 MCF/day. Top of well casing appeared burned and cable to well was partly melted. Interior of house checked for gas with O% LEL reading in house. Two large vents open in crawl space to house. Gas sample collected for composition and isotopic analysis. Mr. DeGraw and I discussed that wall mount detectors for methane are available and that when he moves in to the home that these devices should be installed. Use of outdoor vented cistern for passive treatment of water was also discussed. Also discussed venting of well at sanitary cap.

Early Morning Natural Gas Fire South Of Rifle

The fire started around 5:00 a.m, January 24, 2011, in the Beaver Creek area, about eight miles south of Rifle, CO.

Eyewitnesses heard two explosions and saw flames shooting into the air.

Gas well workers for Williams were getting ready to frack for the day when the explosion happened and flames started shooting out of the ground.

Fire Chief Rob Willits says there was minimal damage, nobody was injured in the fire, the blaze was contained to the tank and was put out by 6:30 a.m.

Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said smaller fires associated with fracking are not uncommon. Flammable materials can lead to fires, but that crews are trained to either put them out themselves or let them burn out on their own. She said fire departments are often called as a backup measure.

Fires caused by methane leaks in many other States

Near Cleveland, in April 2009, a spark ignited the natural gas that had collected in the basement of Richard and Thelma Payne's home. It shattered windows, blew doors 20 feet from their hinges and ignited a small fire. The Paynes were jolted out of bed and their house lifted clear off the ground.

Fearing another explosion, firefighters evacuated 19 homes. Somehow, gas had seeped into the drinking water aquifer and migrated up through the plumbing.

S ubsequent investigation attributed the methane leak to fracking a well before correcting the minimal cement behind the production casing and the 31 days that high-pressure gas was restricted in the space between the surface and production casing after fracking.

In Dimock, PA, several drinking water wells have exploded and nine others were found with so much gas that one homeowner was told to open a window if he planned to take a bath.

In Frio County, Texas in September 2011, seven hydraulic fracturing trucks were totaled in a fire. No one was injured, but the damage to equipment was estimated at about $7 million. Fire Marshal Chuck Garris said there was a "flash" from a pipe and the fire started. Several fire departments from nearby towns and counties battled the blaze. It took about 90 minutes to extinguish the fire.

In February 2011 the Colorado School of Public Health made the following recommendations for Battlement Mesa, CO:

What we know: A small number of accidents and malfunctions occur on a regular basis in natural gas development and production. These accidents and malfunctions can have minor to catastrophic consequences and can impact air, water, and soil quality along with the health of workers and nearby residents. Lack of adherence to rules and regulations, as well as regulatory oversight and enforcement increases the likelihood of accidents and malfunctions. While increased preventive measures and enforcement of regulations can reduce the likelihood of accidents and malfunctions, they cannot ensure that a catastrophic event will not occur in the Battlement Mesa PUD as a result of Antero’s project.

We recommend that Garfield County:

10. Clearly mark primary and secondary evacuation routes from Battlement Mesa.

11. Perform quarterly tests of emergency notification systems within Battlement Mesa (e.g., sirens and reverse 911).

12. Request the Battlement Mesa fire department to inspect all proposed well pad locations and make recommendations for the prevention of well pad fires spreading from the pads up to relocation of pads and that these recommendations are incorporated into the special use permit.

13. Require all gas pipelines to follow established truck haul routes and allow no gas pipelines through the center of the PUD.

14. Assign a county inspector to oversee and inspect all pipeline construction and maintenance in the PUD.

Draft Battlement Mesa, February 2011, Conducted by Colorado School of Public Health 8_HIA_2nd_draft_findings-recommendations.pdf

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states: "Operating and abandoned oil and gas wells pose potential hazards to housing, including potential fire, explosion, spray and other pollution. Therefore, no dwelling may be located closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site or 75 feet from an operating well; this applies to the site boundary, not to the actual well location."


Boom in gas drilling fuels contamination concerns in Colorado

Early Morning Natural Gas Fire South Of Rifle

Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling

Natural Gas Explosions

Ohio methane report ohio_methane_report_080901.pdf

Fire destroys seven fracking trucks


Fracking basics
what is fracking?
spread of fracking in Colorado
history of fracking
documentaries & videos

What goes wrong


faulty cementing
releases of gas
methane in water
fractures reaching aquifers
unknown causes

How fracking is harmful
air quality
Ultra Resources violations
water quality
lack of water in Colorado
food supply & livestock
health effects
explosions & fires

property values
quality of life

tourism & local economy
toxic waste
increased crime rates

What can be done?
proposed laws
Coloradans need an advocate
rewriting regulations
overcoming preemption
how to comment on a permit
less-toxic fracking
other energy sources

Take action now
meeting schedule
sample letters
addresses for letters

politicians' comments

Colorado Springs
& El Paso County
organizations & websites
history of drilling in El Paso County

organizations & websites

organizations & websites

About us
our mission
sign up for the latest news