Dirty Energy & Fuel gas_fire

Published on March 20th, 2009 | by Timothy B. Hurst


Flammable Water Pours from Faucets in Colorado Home

A Colorado family is living in fear that their house could go up in flames at any moment. Amee Ellsworth of Hudson can turn on a faucet in her kitchen or bathroom, light a match and watch as flames shoot out because natural gas from nearby wells have seeped into her groundwater supply.

Officials from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission say the gas is likely leaking from one of the nearby eight wells, but they are not sure which well yet, nor are they even sure which of the two companies—Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc.—operating in the area own it

>>Watch video of the flaming faucets

Natural gas development along Colorado’s eastern plains has picked up significantly in recent years and even though natural gas is often touted as a cleaner alternative to other fossil fuels (even by yours truly), it is not without its own set of dangers.

As GO colleague and New York Times blogger Nick Chambers said in an IM to me just moments ago, “T. Boone Pickens thinks that the US’ natural gas bounty is the work of God, but this devil sink says otherwise.”

I think Nick may have a point.

(via: KDVR-Denver)

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About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.

  • MrGreen

    It is interesting to read these comments. The oil advocates are easy to spot, the environmental wackos are just as easy to spot, but the average Colorado yahoo can be almost completely ignored.

    Gas is a terrific source of cash for our state, yet it is a boom bust unstable economy. Just as fast as jobs are created we will have epic unemployment rates. While hiring people will flock in from the entire country yet only 1/5 people will actually get a job so crime and homelessness rates go up as unemployment go down. Publicized rates do not include vagrants from other states.

    And if you choose to research actual disasters stemming from oil and gas development you will find no shortage of small disasters in Colorado. Yes people have been able to light their water on fire, yes large carcinogenic storage tanks have ruptured, yes tanker trucks have been caught blatantly dumping waste into creeks, yes underground storage and transfer facilities have had massive leaks and polluted local water supplies.

    I would love to research all this out and present news articles, epa reports, local complaints, company notes, etc. But you obviously know how to use the internet. And you are here to blindly follow one of two categories: the lets drill the damn planet into oblivion cause i dgaf, or the it is to late lets protest anyways and live in Telluride and drive an suv cause you are a douche.

    Yes I am adding the enviros from the hip resort towns into this conversaition, they have recycling mandates hybrids and idiot hippies that want free love and green energy. Yet they never stopped to think about how those areas were abandoned because they were unsustainable.

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  • ed

    So how does gas from a leaking gas well make its way into water lines? And how does it completely replace the water?

  • http://Web boomman

    i don’t care about the environmental crap, but burning water is fricking AWESOME!!!

  • abcd

    We concluded that Aimee Ellsworth’s well contained a mixture of biogenic and thermogenic methane that was in part attributable to oil and gas development, and Mrs. Ellsworth and an operator reached a settlement in that case. thermogenic methane is generally associated with oil and gas development, while biogenic methane is not.Read the whole report at: 

    thermogenic methane is generally associated with oil and gas development, while biogenic methane is not.

    Read the whole report at: 

    In a nutshell only PART of the gas was thermogenic.  Her water would still be toxic due to the biogenic(naturally occuring.)  So the fact that it got so bad got it tested and her a settlement.  How long had she been drinking water with biogenic methane?

  • SB

    They could wash and dry there hands at the same time.

  • Uncle B

    Bonanza! Now, trap it and use it for all it is worth! Can the water still be used to wash clothes etc? Sue the gas company for drinking water and use their gas anyway! Win-Win, the :”American Dream”! Lucky devils!

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  • FireWell

    This is very common for many wells. There is natural gas that has built up “NATURALLY” (hence the “natural” in natural gas) in the ground and in underground water tables for 1000′s of years, and has been escaping into peoples water wells for as long as we’ve been able to dig deep enough. It causes no harm and is perfectly safe to live in that home. They actually sell a device that will mix and agitate the water, freeing the natural gas bubbles from your water, but this is not necessary for the water to be safe to use. It is also safe for animals to drink. The only precaution that you must be aware of is when using the water in aquarium fish tanks. The natural gas will kill your fish in large enough quantities.

  • Tara Meixsell

    As gas development moves to New York and Penna, this should serve as a huge red flag re the safety of hydraulic fracturing techniques – this and other
    similar disasters involving home water wells (exploding, contaminations, etc.) certainly don’t illustrate the ‘safety’ of the hydraulic fracturing techniques/and concerns over the exemption of hydraulic fracturing chemicals in the Federal Energy Bill remain. It is again obvious that a family’s water well is communicating with underground gas extraction and it’s subsequent chemicals and by-products.

  • Dustin

    Any one who believes this is a stupid as the one who made it up……..

  • Josh

    What i want to know is how the hell they drink anything?

  • sianz

    next on news: colorado resident rocketed from toilet bowl due to explosive gas mix.

  • nick

    i think i saw this on the twilight zone once…

  • jack

    She should probably start filling up her car
    Free fuel im sure it could be used somehow

  • RichMJones at rcn.com

    If you can locate the Cosmopolite Herald new paper, Girard PA (Northwestern PA), from 1964 you will find an article featuring myself. I had discovered a source of natural gas and had proceeded to captured it in a inverted partially submerged 55 gallon barrel, later we had it piped 510 feet our home to supply, safety values and all, to two 35,000 BTU space heaters. The gas was from a sealed fault disturbed by the Alaskian Earth quake of same year we managed to keep this arrangment for two years. I would not hesitate to capture you supply in the same way. We had a large place and performed every sort of experiment to learn how simple this was.

  • geoff

    It’s not actually Natural Gas, it’s from a Petrol leak from a nearby storage facility… my biggest question is this: WHY ARE THEY LIGHTING MATCHES AND PUTTING IT TO THE TAP if they are so concerned with their house going up in flames???!?

  • Don

    What’s the problem. An oil water separator, and free heat for the house

  • Marc Tullis

    So, let me get this right. . . If there were no natural gas wells in the area then there would be no issue with natural gas getting into the water supply because we all know that natural gas is caused by drilling holes [wells] in the ground for it. Therefore, either Anadarko Petroleum Corp. or Noble Energy Inc. is responsible for creating a natural gas field right in the middle of everyone’s drinking water. Oh! Those horrible rapers of the environment! What ever shall we do?

  • Alex Felsinger


    There’s a link to a video in the post…


  • Phil E. Drifter

    Photoshopped. Duh.

  • mirco

    for epic flamethrower/fire extiguisher combo, use one (1) garden hose of desired length, use with nozzle attachment of choice (some sort of spray device required to increase surface area for sufficient gas volatilization: see photo above, a faucet aerator is in use, allowing more gas to come out of solution than a plain faucet) Once hose/nozzle assembly is sufficient, simply turn on water, add fire. For stubborn fires due to unusually successful flamethrowing, simply cut off water, extinguish nozzle flame, remove nozzle, and douse flames with pouring water. epic.

  • Matt


    My thoughts exactly.

  • jeff

    How much do they want for the house?

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  • Jeff H

    They can probably turn off the water heater for a while. At least they have that going for them.

  • Shelly T.

    Someone needs to show this to Boone Pickens before he has us all drowning in natural gas.

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