FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – In her first public comments since being injured in the Firestone explosion that killed her husband and another man, Erin Martinez says she supports changes to Colorado’s oil and gas industry rules. She talked about the explosion at the state Capitol on Thursday.
“I am a survivor of the Firestone home explosion,” said Martinez during a news conference on Thursday.
“On the day of the explosion, I remember being blown into the air and trapped between falling debris.”
On April 17, 2017, a leaking gas line caused an explosion at the Martinez’s home on Twilight Avenue. Both Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin were killed. Erin Martinez suffered serious injuries.
“My son had to crawl on his hands and knees through a tunnel to a window and make the decision to jump out and save his own life,” said Martinez. “A group of heroic construction workers nearby saw him jump out and quickly worked to save my life. My husband and brother were trapped inside.”
She says the gas leak went undetected for four months and says it should have been inspected and pressure tested.
In May of last year, Anadarko reached a settlement with the families. Details about the settlement were not released.
According to a statement by Anadarko, the company owned and operated the vertical natural gas well at the center of the explosion. That well was located approximately 200 feet from the Martinez home.
RELATED: Firestone Explosion Story Archive
“I understand that no one ever intended for this to happen. I have no desire to destroy an industry. Lots of good people depend on this industry for their livelihoods. I respect that,” said Martinez. “However, with great tragedy should also come great change. Human life should come first. The only way to make sure that this never happens again is to learn from this tragedy. The only way to make sure that this never happens again is to learn from this tragedy and create safer regulations and guidelines that put human safety first.”
Martinez was joined by Gov. Jared Polis and other state lawmakers who are proposing changes to the oil and gas industry in Colorado, including increasing empowerment by local communities to take control over what is happening in their own backyards.
“Right now, oil and gas laws in Colorado tilt heavily toward the industry. We are going to correct that tilt so that health, safety, and environment are no longer ignored by state agencies,” said Speaker KC Becker. “This bill would also ensure that local governments have a greater ability to represent the interests of the people they serve.”
Under existing Colorado law and court decisions, the first priority of regulators is fostering the oil and gas industry, not protecting health and safety. And only the state can regulate the industry, not local governments.
Martinez recounted her journey to find a home that wasn’t located near oil or gas lines. She said that she found a house and was assured the only well was a plugged and abandoned well far away.
“Months later, I saw crews from the oil and gas industry digging and searching for an abandoned well behind my house. They kept getting closer and closer to my property line. They finally located the well in my neighbor’s backyard along the fence line that we share,” said Martinez. “As a result of this incident, we are in the process of moving again. And I am trying to get my son to trust that this time, it will be okay.”