Pueblo, CO – A Bessemer home was destroyed and two others damaged Friday morning in what investigators believe was a natural gas explosion.
“We have what appears to be consistent with a natural-gas explosion. Again, that’s not 100-percent confirmed at this point, but it definitely looks that way,” said Fire Inspector Woody Percival.
No one was injured in the 9:22 a.m. blast at 1234 Pine St. If natural gas is determined to be the culprit, it’ll mark the second destructive blast in Pueblo in a month’s time.
On Nov. 13, the Branch Inn and A Classic Boutique, located on C Street and Union Avenue, were destroyed in what investigators determined was a natural gas explosion. One woman died and several others were injured. “When (Friday’s call) came in, it obviously brings up thoughts of ‘Not again,’ ” Percival said. “There was enough here that looked familiar (from November’s explosion). We don’t rule anything out. When doing an investigation, everything is on the table and you start eliminating things, and we haven’t been able to eliminate natural gas.”
A preliminary investigation showed the blast ignited in the basement, “but again, that hasn’t been confirmed,” Percival said, adding that criminal activity has been ruled out.
Neighbors said the home at 1234 Pine was occupied by an elderly man who usually leaves around 6 a.m. Property records indicate the home is owned by Joe Mattie.
Mattie’s truck was not in the driveway of the home at the time of the incident, and neighbors said they saw him leave earlier in the day.
Gas provider Xcel Energy checked neighboring houses for leaks, Percival said. Crews dug up the gas service to 1234 Pine and capped it off at the gas main.
Gas service to a nearby home was shut off because the inspectors found a leak in the line leading from the gas meter to the house. Utilities were also shut off to 1232 and 1236 Pine, neighboring houses damaged in the blast and fire.
Like Mattie, those neighbors had to find other living accommodations. Attempts to contact Mattie for this report were unsuccessful.
The blast produced 20-foot flames that threatened both neighboring homes that sit close together.
“The fact that the houses are still standing is a testament to how (fast firefighters) stopped the fire,” Percival said.
The blaze was contained in just over an hour, but kept area streets closed most of the day.
A couple blocks of Northern Avenue, a major South Side artery, were closed until after 1 p.m. because fire hoses stretched across the street. Percival said some of the nearest pumps were on the opposite side of Northern. Pine Street remained closed until about 6 p.m.