Gas Wells Dot State’s Fire Prone Red Zones

More than 2,000 active gas and oil wells are located in Colorado’s high fire danger red zones, the volatile conflux of population, forest canopy and mountainous terrain.

Wells or rigs burning from wildfires or causing wildfires are rare events, industry and state officials said, but there are procedures in place to react quickly to fires near oil and gas wells. Precautions are also taken to prevent drilling and pumping operations from accidentally sparking fires.

In June, for example, Encana Corp., a major gas producer in Colorado,  shut down more than 500 wells for several days and temporarily evacuated a small gas processing plant in Rio Blanco County during the fast-moving Wild Rose fire that eventually burned more than 1,000 acres.

More than one million people and a half-million homes are located in Colorado’s red zone forests.

I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS digitally mapped the number and location of wells in red zones as of June 14th.  The map showed there were 2,034 active oil and gas wells, primarily in two counties.

Two thirds of the wells, 1,490, are in Garfield County, the scene of two 400-acre fires earlier this month. Another 429 wells are in La Plata County, about 60 miles west of this summer’s vast West Fork fire.

To read the story and view the map please go to



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