Chatfield Corners Evacuates Due to Gas Leak and Fire

Eagle Valley Students and Teachers Temporarily Displaced

Smoke was visible from the ignition throughout town.

Smoke was visible from the ignition throughout town.

Carter Josef, Reporter/ Editor in Chief

Yesterday, at around 12:35pm there was an ignition to methane gas in the Chatfield Corners neighborhood. The gas had been leaking for multiple days, however, it is still unknown how many. The methane became saturated in the ground prior to ignition. Members of that neighborhood were evacuated from the area. They were able to be escorted to their houses to get essentials such as pets and medications last night.

The Chatfield Corners neighborhood is close to Eagle Valley, and teachers and students have been  affected by this incident. 

Bo Calvo ‘21 lives in Chatfield Corners, and he was checked out from school on Thursday afternoon.

“The teacher’s phone at the time had been turned off, so one of the women who works in the office had to come tell me that I was being checked out,” Calvo reflects. “I was confused as to what exactly was happening. I was not told why I was being checked out or anything like that. Nothing seemed wrong at the moment, so I figured something had happened in the family or maybe something in the office that had happened.”

Calvo’s dad picked him up, and they went directly to Costco to meet up with his mom. This is where his dad told him about the evacuation. 

“I was very shocked when I was told,” Calvo said. “I got very sad very quickly because I thought we could potentially lose our home or someone could have been hurt in the explosion or the fire.”

Many school members did not know of what was happening at the time. At around 3:15 yesterday afternoon, Principal Greg Doan made an announcement informing the school of  the incident for those who were not yet made aware. This is how Science teacher and Chatfield Corner resident, Mr. Paul Steiner was informed  of what was going on in his neighborhood. 

“At first I was surprised because I didn’t know the nature of the problem. It’s fairly common you’ll have a gas leak in your home, and, unfortunately, it’s fairly common when that happens that the gas will kind of diffuse towards some sort of combustion,” Steiner explains. “So I didn’t really realize the nature of the problem until about five o’clock yesterday.”

Red Hill Elementary School along with Gypsum Creek Middle School were evacuated in the early afternoon. Among those student’s was Mr. Steiner’s daughter. Once school ended, Steiner went to get his daughter, and together they tried to return to their house. 

“The Sheriff’s Department was like, no. No one can get in. It’s too dangerousThey said you probably weren’t going to be able to get in all night, so you better start figuring out what you want to do. We just kind of made other arrangements for the night” Steiner said.

Families of the area were told to evacuate immediately. They did not have time to get many of their belongings, and families had to act quick and prioritize. For Calvo’s family, that meant tending to the members of the family. 

“Their first concern was us, their children, and of course our dog. Dad immediately went home to get our dog.Then, he picked the three of us up from school. We were not able to recover anything else until today. All I had on me really was my wallet, my phone, and my school stuff. That was pretty much it,” Calvo explains.

Unfortunately, for a gas leak there is not much to reduce the methane. As a chemistry teacher, Mr. Steiner understands, “Primarily, you just have to wait for that methane gas to diffuse. There are some smaller things like you can have vent holes. All day today, they’ve been getting deep ground samples next to a bunch of homes to try to figure out what the percent concentration is of methane in the ground. To know whether or not it’s safe for people to go home.”

Eagle County first responders have been working with Black Hills Energy to remove the gas from the system. They have also worked with Holy Cross Energy to turn off the electricity to minimize the risk of another ignition.

Everyone is thankful for the work of the first responders. 

“I am very appreciative of the professionals who are working very hard to get us back to our houses as soon as possible,” Calvo expressed.

Eagle Valley Student Media will continue to post updates to this story. Please check Eagle County Information Officers for more information.