Explosion rocks El Jebel home | AspenTimes.com

Explosion rocks El Jebel home

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times
ALL |

EL JEBEL ” An explosion at a house in Sopris Mountain Ranch destroyed about 600 square feet of the structure and caused an estimated $150,000 in damage Saturday morning, authorities said.

The house was unoccupied at the time. A caretaker reported that he smelled gas earlier in the day so he ventilated the upper floors and shut off the propane service.

“Upon entering the basement mechanical room he turned on the light, opened the lid to the boiler controls and then saw a spark which caused ‘the whole room to turn orange,'” said a prepared statement from the Basalt fire department. An explosion blew the caretaker into a hallway.

The home’s sprinkler system activated and doused the flames at the same time the caretaker helped with a fire extinguisher. The caretaker suffered minor burns on his face and hands.

Fire chief Scott Thompson said the explosion occurred within the walls of the mechanical room, where propane had apparently built up. The propane was ignited by the boiler in the mechanical room. The cause of the leak is under investigation.

Deputy fire chief Jerry Peetz said the caretaker, Carlos Enriquez, deserved credit for preventing a bigger explosion and fire by shutting down the propane system and ventilating the house. Propane falls, unlike natural gas, which rises, so that’s why it accumulated in the walls of the basement mechanical room, Peetz said.

The fire department was called to the house at 1301 Old Herron Rd. at 11:01 a.m. The fire engine arrived at 11:30 a.m. Peetz said the house was located a long way up the rural subdivision’s roads. The site was at the very end of the service area, so it took a while to reach.

Firefighters located and extinguished two small fires behind the walls. A total of 16 firefighters and two engines responded. They were assisted by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the Aspen fire marshal’s office.

Basalt firefighters responded to a second call related to a gas leak at 3:50 p.m. Saturday. A water leak on the roof of the Orchard Plaza commercial building, on top of the old Bagel Bites space, created a huge ice chunk “the size of a small car,” Thompson said. The weight of the ice broke a gas line. A fire was ignited by a furnace.

The fire was spotted by a heating and air conditioning repair man who was working on a project on the roof. He was apparently called for a problem unrelated to the gas line break, Thompson said. The fire was confined to the roof and damage was minimal, but Thompson said it was fortunate it didn’t occur at 3 a.m. in the morning when it could have burned without being noticed.


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