A candlelight vigil for Samuel Hedemark and Christopher King Fuller is at 9 p.m. Friday in Oak Creek's Decker Park. The gathering begins at 8 p.m. People are asked to bring extra candles and memories or notes of the boys to be used during a joint memorial service at 10 a.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Yampa.
Steamboat Springs Police said sparks from a cigarette lighter likely ignited rising fumes from an oil storage tank, sparking an explosion that killed two South Routt teenagers Saturday night.
Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos said investigators confirmed that the cause of the explosion that killed Sam Hedemark, 17, of Phippsburg and Christopher King Fuller, 19, of Yampa, likely was the result of one of the boys lighting a cigarette as they were jumping on top of the 20-foot oil tank at a well site near Chapman Reservoir in northern Rio Blanco County. Investigators with the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Office, Colorado Bureau of Investigation arson team and Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission worked on the case.
"We don't know that that is exactly what happened, but we've been able to confirm that one of the boys was a smoker and had cigarettes in his pocket at the time of the explosion," Joos said Wednesday night. "The lighter that was found was not in his pocket and was found near the body."
Both boys were blown about 400 feet from the explosion site, he said.
"It is believed that one of the boys had the lighter in his hand at the time of the explosion," he said.
Joos said a nearby bonfire at the well site did not contribute to the explosion.
The heat and force from the first oil tank explosion caused some damage to another oil tank in the area, Joos said. The first oil tank contained about 166 barrels of oil and was only half-full. The tank had a valve on the top that allows vapors to rise as pressure inside the tank builds. The second tank contained about 20 barrels of oil, he said.
Jumping on the tank could have increased the amount of vapor that was being released through the valve, he said.
Joos said the explosion still is under investigation, and that it could be weeks before charges, if any, are determined.
Both teens had alcohol and traces of marijuana in their systems at the time of the explosion. Finding out who provided the teens with alcohol at the party that included teenagers and young adults has been part of the interview process, he said.