Small fire ignites at the Battlement pipeline site |

Small fire ignites at the Battlement pipeline site

Grand Valley Fire Protection District firefighters were called to put out a fire at a future natural gas drilling site in Battlement Mesa this week after smoke could be seen coming from the ground.

Ursa Resources will use the site for natural gas drilling once Summit Midstream finishes installing pipeline.

The site’s preparation has been fraught with problems, with a state oil and gas regulator at one point criticizing Summit’s handling of soil and water, and crews hitting underground water sources during the work.

The small fire occurred Wednesday evening after Summit had been injecting grout material into a borehole, according to Dave Devanney with Battlement Concerned Citizens.

Grand Valley Fire Protection District firefighters contained the combustion to the hole and there were no flames, Devanney said.

Summit Mainstream did not return a phone call for comment.

Don Simpson, vice president of business development for Ursa, said in an email Saturday that “the excess grout mix was in placed in a safe open place with berms, as designed for safety.”

“Summit employees stayed at the site during the night to make sure that it remained secure,” Simpson wrote. “The smoldering began prior to midnight [and] the site was attended to the entire night.”

While the incident was contained, a fire igniting within the residential boundaries of Battlement Mesa further shows the dangers of having oil and gas activities so close to homes, Devanney said.

“It’s encouraging it didn’t turn out worse, but nonetheless this was obviously an undesirable outcome not anticipated or planned,” Devanney said. “I’m concerned about future activities and events that might not turn out as well. It all goes back to the fact that we are having industrial activities in residential communities.”

Devanney’s group is among those that have fought drilling within the Planned Unit Development to no avail; Garfield County and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last year approved Ursa’s plans.

Ursa owns mineral rights under the 5,000-resident development in unincorporated Garfield County adjacent to Parachute. The activists, bolstered by a letter from the Colorado Department of Pubic Health and Environment, did get developers to relocate an injection well proposed for a site upstream from the community’s municipal water intake.

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