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Dozens evacuated in Gypsum following gas leak, house explosion

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Posted at 2:51 PM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 01:59:42-04

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. – Dozens of Gypsum residents were forced to find shelter outside their homes Thursday evening due to safety concerns after a gas leak caused an explosion in one of the town’s subdivisions earlier in the day.

Around midday, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office received reports of a gas leak in the Chatfield subdivision, which was caused by a company drilling for fiber optic cable in the neighborhood, according to an incident commander who was briefing residents about the incident Thursday night.

Officials said crews drilling in the area around 11 a.m. hit a two-inch, dual feed gas line, causing gas to pull up underneath the ground. At around 12:35 p.m., that gas leak caused a home in Cottonwood Pass Road to explode. It’s unclear if someone was inside the home at the time.

Residents in the Chatfield Corners neighborhood along Gypsum Creek Road, Valley Road, Grundel Road and Cottonwood Pass were evacuated as a precaution.

During the 7 p.m. briefing, Eagle County officials said the gas leak had been mitigated, but that crews would be working through the night to make sure the area was safe as gas was still saturated underground due to a hit that happened in previous days.

Officials said gas for Chatfield Zone 1 had to be cut off after the explosion, and power for all of the Chatfield subdivision had to be tuned off as the main powerline that feeds Chatfield runs underground, right through where the gas leak occurred.

“This is a pretty big problem. We’re hoping that gas company can mitigate it by sometime tomorrow,” the incident commander said.

Aspen and Vail were notified about the gas leak and the home explosion and are assisting Town of Gypsum officials, he said.

Residents who live on Stoney Creek Street through Tenderfoot Lane west, including those who reside on: Prairie Wind Street, McBrayer Street, and west on Chatfield Lane were allowed access to their homes with a law enforcement escort for essential needs such as medication or pets.

Other areas in the Chatfield Corners neighborhood were not safe for residents to return, the sheriff’s office said in a tweet.

The American Red Cross set up an information table to assist residents who needed shelter for the evening in the amphitheater of the Gypsum Recreation Center, which served as an evacuation site for the dozens of residents affected.

Chatfield Gas Leak Community Meeting

Posted by Eagle County PIO on Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office urged residents to stay up-to-date by checking the county’s Facebook page.