Lincoln County Woman Says Her Tap Water Is Flammable

Friday, February 21st 2014, 11:24 pm
By: News 9

A homeowner in Chandler says her tap water catches fire. Apparently there may be dangerously high levels of methane, an extremely flammable gas, in her water well.

The family has been advised to stay out of the home until the problem is fixed.

Gena Tinsley says she's always had a sulfur smell to her tap water, but after 17 years in her home, she never thought there could be gas in it.

Imagine turning your kitchen faucet on, putting a lighter to it, and then watching your water burst into flames. It's invisible and it naturally occurs in the ground. But the thought of methane getting into drinking water has turned into more of a nightmare for Tinsley and her family.

"My son had watched the ‘Gas Land' documentary, and he said, ‘I'm going to try this test that they say to do on there,' which they say, to take a lighter to your faucet, and see if it burns," Tinsley.

Gena's well water not only burns, it bursts into flames. Her 24-year-old son shot cell phone video in their kitchen.

"I thought, ‘Oh, I can't believe that there would be that much gas in my water.' And here we're cooking, showering, all the things that you do with well water," said Tinsley.

"So we searched and searched and bulldozed and bulldozed, and were eventually able to find what was a dry hole," said Matt Skinner, Oklahoma Corporation Commission Spokesperson.

Inspectors with OCC have been digging next to Gena's property for at least the past week. The mission now is to cap the oil well properly.

"It does need to be plugged according to modern standards regardless," said Skinner.

The oil well has been dry since 1952. Gina and her family have lived next door to the property since 1997.

"Over the last couple of years actually, my daughter has experience very severe headaches, nose bleeds," said Tinsley. "I have lupus, so you know, my immune system is compromised."

"This has our top, top priority," said Skinner. "Nothing is more important than this. It's on an expedited basis."

By law, Skinner says the job to permanently fix the dry hole will have to be put up for bid. It may take a total of about 11 days to fix.