Documents requested by 9NEWS and provided by the Aurora Fire Department show firefighters were called to assist with four gas leaks dating back to Oct. 23. This was before the explosion at Heather Gardens that killed a woman and injured a firefighter and another resident.
According to Xcel Energy and the Aurora Fire Department’s Incident reports, all four gas leaks were caused by workers cutting into or damaging a gas line.
“These events were due to damage by third-party contractors, not working for Xcel Energy,” said Mark Stutz, a spokesperson for Xcel, in an email statement.
Documents show the gas leaks occurred on Oct. 23, Oct. 29, Nov. 13, and Nov. 14. On Oct. 23, the Fire Department’s incident report describes a “cut line requiring evacuation.” You can see each call out on this map.
In the incident six days later, Fire Capt. Joseph Geiger wrote workers “stated they were digging when the line was accidentally damaged.” That report cites the business involved as ICS. Comcast spokesperson, Leslie Oliver, said they hired ICS Communications as a contractor to install an Xfinity fiber optic network underground.
The report from Nov. 13 says Xfinity subcontractor, ITS was involved when they “found a contractor on scene trenching and a small gas line damaged in their work site.”
The fourth report came just two days before the explosion, and Geiger said the Fire Department “found construction workers standing by a gas leak. Workers stated that they were hand digging and broke the gas line.”
“That’s an unusual coincidence in my opinion in a small geographic area,” said Kevin Hammons, a former Aurora Fire Deputy Chief and current fire science lecturer at Metropolitan State University.
Hammons said although responding to gas leaks is fairly common, he found these reports interesting because of how close in proximity and time they all were.
Aurora Fire Department did not provide any reports on the gas leak that fueled the fire on November 16, citing an ongoing investigation, but Xcel Energy says a third-party contractor hit the gas line, causing the leak.
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