Aspen-area home explosion sends 4 people to the hospital, injures others
At least two people suffered severe injuries and several others were hurt Thursday after an explosion at a mansion under construction off McLain Flats Road, sources said Friday.
Emergency dispatchers received a call from the construction site of an 8,000-to-10,000-square-foot home on Slalom Path at 2:26 p.m. Thursday, said Jake Andersen, deputy Aspen fire chief. The home is located near the Sunnyside Trailhead off McLain Flats.
When paramedics, fire trucks and county sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found one of the floors of the home had fallen through, walls were down and windows had been blown out of their frames, he said.
“The floor was collapsed and multiple walls were displaced,” Andersen said. “This was a significant event. A lot of people were in the house at the time (of the explosion).”
The source of the explosion was unclear Friday morning. Andersen said fire investigators were still trying to determine what caused it and that agents from the federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives office in Denver were on scene assisting with the investigation.
An ATF-certified fire investigator is helping with the investigation, though there doesn’t seem to be any federal crime involved so the agency was unlikely to take over the investigation, said Crystal McCoy, ATF spokeswoman in Denver.
Gabe Muething, director of Aspen Ambulance, said the dispatch call was for a “gas explosion” and that the first two paramedics who arrived on scene encountered significant damage to the basement and first floors of the home.
“One of my guys said it looked like someone picked up the home and shook it like a snow globe,” he said.
The most seriously injured person on scene was still stuck under drywall, window frames and other debris on the unstable first floor when the ambulance personnel drove up. The paramedics, however, went inside the home anyway, extricated the man from the debris and were able to start triage immediately before taking him to Aspen Valley Hospital, Muething said.
That man was later flown by helicopter to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, he said. Three others who were injured on scene also were taken to AVH, with two admitted and one treated and released. Another four people on scene were treated by paramedics for less serious injuries, Muething said.
All were stable Friday, though the condition of the man taken to Denver was not available, Muething said.
Two suffered severe injuries and two suffered moderate injuries, Andersen said.
“To be honest, we really lucked out,” Andersen said. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Ashley Campbell, a spokeswoman for Black Hills Energy, said Friday that crews from the company, which runs the natural gas pipeline infrastructure in Pitkin County, responded to the site Thursday after the explosion.
“We completed our onsite assessments and will work with all appropriate agencies as they look to determine a cause,” she said in an email to the Times.
A message left Friday for a spokesman at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which may investigate the incident, was not returned.
The home sits on one of three lots on Slalom Path owned by Bob Hurst, vice chairman of New York-based Crestview Partners and retired vice chairman of Goldman Sachs.
Hurst and his wife, Soledad, along with Melony and Adam Lewis, and Paul and Erin Pariser, funded a “Lunch for Locals” program in January 2021. The program provided free meals daily from the Aspen Art Museum. In addition, Hurst co-chaired the 2020 Rescue Fund, which raised around $3.5 million from 22 Aspen locals, including himself, to help offset COVID-19 pandemic-related financial losses.
The Hursts also hosted a private fundraising dinner for Hillary Clinton when she was seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential race. The fundraiser took place on Jalanda Lane, which is in close proximity to where the home explosion occurred.
The library conference room in Aspen was humming with excitement as the Pitkin County Democratic Party elected a new but familiar chair Tuesday evening — former Chair Howie Wallach’s wife, Betty.