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Phippsburg Two South Routt teenagers are dead after an oil storage tank they were jumping on in the Routt National Forest exploded, the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office reported.
The incident occurred late Saturday night at a well site off Forest Service Road 949 near Chapman Reservoir, said Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos. Killed were 17-year-old Samuel Hedemark of Phippsburg and 19-year-old Christopher King Fuller of Yampa. Both teens were under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, the Rio Blanco County Coroner's Office reported.
Joos said the teens were among 16 who were partying at the site southwest of Phippsburg in northeast Rio Blanco County. All of the teens are from the South Routt area. Joos said witness statements indicated the two teens were jumping up and down on the tank when it exploded. Their bodies were found about 150 yards from the tank.
One teen climbed down from the tank just moments before the explosion, Joos said.
There was a ladder leading to the top of the tank where there was a release valve. Joos said one of the teens was found with cigarettes, marijuana and a lighter. Investigators believe the teens jumped on the tank, forcing vapors through the valve. Joos said the vapors likely ignited when the lighter was used, prompting the explosion.
Rio Blanco County Coroner Randall Cochran said marijuana was found in both teens' bodies and each had a blood-alcohol level higher than the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving. Cochran said Hedemark's blood-alcohol was 0.112 percent and Fuller's was 0.161.
A dog also was killed in the incident, but no one else was hurt. Joos said the fire was contained quickly and did not spread.
One of the teens at the party called 911. Oak Creek Fire and Rescue and the Routt County Sheriff's Department were the first to respond. The Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office is the investigating agency.
Joos said the storage tank was about half full with 160 barrels of oil. The well site is owned by Pinnacle and is just off Forest Service Road 949.
Joos said 16 teens were at the party but only six or seven remained when officials arrived. Officials with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are working to interview all of the teens. Joos said alcohol was a factor in the incident.
Charges stemming from the incident, if any, will not be determined until after all the interviews are completed, Joos said.
Joos said the county's lead investigator worked on the case through late Sunday night and that he expects more information on the incident later today.
School officials said Hedemark and Fuller attended Soroco High School recently, but that neither was enrolled when the school year ended. Joos said Principal James Chamberlin is arranging for grief counselors at the school.