A farmhouse caught fire following a gas line break on the morning of August 15, leading to a deadly explosion. According to a local police officer, the deaths are being investigated as homicides.
Two people were killed and one hospitalized after an explosion occurred at a farmhouse near South Highway 87 in Coolidge, Arizona. The fire which caused the explosion reportedly broke out at around 5:45 a.m., and several people called the police upon hearing what sounded like an explosion minutes later.
Witnesses in the area stated that they heard a “roaring” from the fire, with many of them comparing the sound to a jet or a flamethrower.
“It was bad, it was real bad, ’cause my whole house, windows and everything were shaking.” said Marilu Murillo, a neighbor, adding: “I thought it was a tornado, that explosion, walked out and I saw the fire. Scary… I’ve never seen anything like that. Never.”
Coolidge Police Officer Mark Tercero stated that the deaths will be investigated as homicides “until they can discover a cause.”
According to Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller, a woman inside the home had to be airlifted to the hospital after she was found with burn injuries on more than 50 percent of her body.
Two other occupants of the farmhouse, Luis Alverez and his 14 year old daughter Valerie Alverez, were found dead.
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Officials have announced that they believe the cause of the deadly fire was likely a gas line break.
NTSB investigating the Aug. 15, 2021, rupture of a 30-inch natural gas transmission pipeline in Coolidge, AZ.
— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) August 16, 2021
According to energy company Kinder Morgan, there was a pipeline failure at the El Paso Natural Gas Company. Kinder Morgan is conducting an investigation into the leak.
The company released a statement, which read:
“At approximately 5:45 a.m. MST today, El Paso Natural Gas Company, L.L.C. (EPNG) experienced a pipeline failure on the EPNG system near the City of Coolidge, Pinal County, Arizona near Randolph Rd., east of Hwy. 87. A fire was reported at the site and has been extinguished. All EPNG employees have been accounted for.
The company has deployed employees to the area and has isolated the impacted pipeline segment. The company is coordinating with local first responders and relevant state and federal agencies, and an investigation into the cause of the failure will be conducted.”
One local resident shared a video on YouTube showing the flames from the deadly explosion.