Death ruled suicide in house explosion

Man intentionally detached gas line which led to June 19 blast

Photo courtesy of the city of Thornton
Fire crews sift through the debris after an explosion leveled the home at 13072 Monroe Drive, killing a man, and damaging five other houses on June 19. Officials have determined that the gas leak was intentional and the deceased committed suicide.
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Officials have determined that Gary Pine, 59, wanted to kill himself when he intentionally detached the natural gas line to the furnace inside his Thornton home June 19.

This act led to the home at 13072 Monroe Drive to fill up with natural gas, which resulted in the eventual ignition and home explosion, according to an Aug. 22 statement by Thornton Police.

“The evidence indicates the victim, Gary Pine, engaged in an intentional act to commit suicide …” the statement reads.

Thornton Police Chief Randy Nelson led a community meeting Wednesday, July 16, to update the neighbors of that home on the investigation into the cause, the cleanup process and to reduce concerns about asbestos exposure.

At that time officials told a crowd of more than 100 people gathered at Stargate Charter School that someone intentionally tampered with the natural gas line and that the line could have leaked for up to two hours before the explosion. However, it was not officially ruled a suicide at that point because Pine’s toxicology test results were still pending.

Pine co-owned the home and lived in the basement. He lived with two roommates who were not at home during the explosion. According to the city, the home co-owner has filed for cleaning permits. It is up to him to do the cleanup and not the responsibility of the city.

The blast leveled the home and damaged five neighboring homes, which are now uninhabitable. The debris from the blast went about a two-block radius.

The home was built in the 1970s and had asbestos inside its popcorn ceilings. However, Mike Van Dyke with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said the risk of exposure to asbestos was extremely low because it was limited to the ceiling and the drywall pieces were found in large chunks.

For the smaller particles that may have been tiny and airborne, Van Dyke said, the rain and wind after the explosion would have minimized the exposure to those.

The city has set up a specific page on its website for all information involving the Monroe Drive incident at .

Residents with questions or concerns are asked to email the city at monroedriveincident@cityofthornton.net.