Explosion at Heather Gardens Investigation Report

Investigative report completed for November 2018 explosion at Heather Gardens residence in Aurora
Posted on 11/15/2019
Aurora News Release

AURORA, Colo. – Investigators from Aurora Fire Rescue have completed their thorough investigation into the fatal natural gas explosion, that occurred in the Heather Gardens community on Nov. 16, 2018.

The investigation report contains a summary of the findings to aid in understanding the complex, technical investigation and conclusions. The summary notes the following important timeline findings:

  • At 4:04 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2018, Aurora Fire Rescue was dispatched for a gas leak.
  • Aurora Fire Rescue responded, performed precautionary/protective measures, and requested that Xcel Energy, the operator of the gas line, respond.
  • At approximately 5:30 p.m. an explosion occurred.
  • The “Area of Origin” of the explosion was 13962 E. Linvale Place.
  • A gas-fed fire continued after the explosion.
  • The explosion and fire that occurred resulted in the death of Carol Ross (resident of 13962 E. Linvale Place), two civilian injuries, and one firefighter injury.

The investigation revealed that workers responsible for installing underground communications lines utilizing a boring machine were working in the area prior to the incident. The process described allows utilities to be installed underground without creating an open trench.

Regarding the cause of the gas-leak, explosion, and fire that occurred, the report includes the following conclusions:

  • Locates were not conducted near the address of 13962 E. Linvale Place on or around the date of the gas leak and explosion.
  • Investigators determined that the gas line had damage consistent with being struck by the boring bit.
  • The gas leaked underground through the soil and entered the residence through a crack or hole in the structure and then ignited and exploded. 

Aurora Fire Rescue is sensitive to the impacts to the family and officials met with the family of Carol Ross as a special consideration. The family was given the opportunity to review the investigation report and ask questions directly to the investigations team.

“The department offers our deepest condolences to the loved ones of Carol Ross who died last November,” said Aurora Fire Chief Fernando Gray. “We understand that the one-year-mark can be difficult for all impacted including those who were displaced, those who were injured, and especially those who lost a loved one.”

The investigation report is available through the open records request process. A link to the request form can be found at AuroraGov.org/city_hall/public_records.

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