City sued for blast that razed 2 homes
A lawsuit alleges the City of Grand Junction, which has said it bears no responsibility for a gas line rupture and explosion that destroyed two homes on Seventh Street and led to widespread evacuations this past spring, failed to maintain utilities and was negligent in supervising contractors.
The city was added last month to a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Roberto Lopez, Jordan Pierson and Kolby Gimmeson, the students who survived the March 19 blast after being blown out of a rental property at 1752 N. Seventh St.
The men are represented by local firm, Killian, Davis, Richter and Mayle.
Previously named in the lawsuit was Aperion Utility Construction LLC, the city-hired contractor conducting a direction drill to repair traffic signals March 19 at the intersection of Seventh Street and Orchard Avenue. Also named were Safe Site LLC, Public Service Co. of Colorado, which was previously identified in the lawsuit as Xcel Energy, and the owners of the destroyed property at 1752 N. Seventh St.
All have denied wrongdoing.
City attorney John Shaver this week said they’re evaluating the lawsuit and will file a formal response.
The suit alleges Aperion and the city relied upon Safe Site, a Loveland utility locating firm, to provide accurate mapping of buried gas lines at Seventh and Orchard, while arguing drilling adjacent to gas lines is “inherently risky.”
“The city owed plaintiffs a duty of care to reasonably and safely operate its respective business and activities at the Seventh Street and Orchard Avenue utility upgrade site,” the lawsuit says.
Aperion on March 19 bored into the ground at the intersection of Seventh and Orchard, and breached a 6-inch Xcel natural gas line. Nobody was killed in the explosion that followed, but three people sustained severe burns and people in 187 surrounding homes, as well as three schools, multiple businesses and a day care facility, were evacuated in a 10-block area.
Grand Junction in June released a report, commissioned by the city’s insurance company, which found the city’s actions didn’t contribute to the explosion. The lawsuit hasn’t yet been scheduled for trial.