COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A couple said Sunday they were lucky to be alive after a house explosion rocked their Colorado Springs home. A natural gas leak set off a series of explosions at the couple's rental home on Chaparral Road on Friday, Nov. 8.
"There were so many explosions," said Mary Adkins, who was in the home at the time. "There must have been four explosions."
The Adkins moved into the rental home on Chaparral Road three months ago. The couple previously lived in Black Forest. They were evacuated from their home during the Black Forest fire. However, the home was not destroyed in the fire. The Adkins later had to move out of the home because of "unfortunate circumstances" they said.
The Adkins said the natural gas leak started before they moved into the house. They had no idea there was a problem until that Friday. They hope sharing their story will encourage people to check valves and gas connections in their own homes.
Mark Adkins was outside the home working on his truck when he heard his wife start yelling about a fire. He ran to the front door, pausing briefly to grab the garden hose. Then, the first explosion went off. The force of the blast sent him flying to the sidewalk.
"I went with the flying windows and everything," said Mark Adkins. "I turned around and I looked with all the flames coming out of the house and I said, 'Oh my God Mary is in there.'"
Mark and Mary Adkins have been married for 44 years. Mark Adkins said memories of his days fighting the Vietnam War flashed in his mind as he ran into the wall of flames.
"All that fire was coming at me as I want up the steps and I looked down the hallway," said Mark Adkins. "Mary was at the end of the hallway, kind of incoherent. She was breathing all that black smoke. I grabbed a hold of her and we got out the front door."
Mary Adkins heard a low roar just before the explosion.
"I knew right then it wasn't right," she said. "The kitchen wall, it was all aglow. Within seconds it became a flame."
After the first explosion rocked the house, Mary Adkins was disorientated. When Mark found his wife, Mary said he told her, "If I was going to die, he was going to die with me."
The two made it to the front door. Then, Mary ran downstairs. She didn't want to leave her cats in the flames. It was too late.
"Another explosion, it blew the door open and I went right out after it," said Mary Adkins.
CASE Forensics, a fire investigation company based in Denver, found Mary Adkin's 17-year-old cat Chip five days after the fire. He was trapped under a table in the master bedroom. Workers brought Chip to a pet hospital and donated $1,500 to his medical bills. Chip went into respiratory failure Sunday night and had to be put down. The couple's other cat is still missing.
The couple was in the process of getting Renter's Insurance.
"It was just a day late and a dollar short," said Mark Adkins.
The Adkins walked out of the house with just clothes on their backs. Now everything is gone.
"It's a feeling I hope nobody has to go through," said Mary Adkins.
"It's just devastating," said Mark Adkins. "Like you are in some kind of nightmare."
Mark and Mary Adkins said they've found strength and hope from the outpouring of support from neighbors and the greater community. Their neighors, the Behners, scouted out rental homes for them and planned to drive them to the different locations Sunday afternoon. The Behners want to get the Adkins moved into a rental home by Dec. 1.
Mary Adkins said her neighbor Linda Behner cooked food for firefighters next door as the fought the fire at the Adkins' home.
The Adkins said the road to recovery can be overwhelming. However, they said they will get through this thanks for their neighbos and each other.
For people wishing to donate to help the Adkins rebuild, "The Mark and Mary Adkins Recovery Fund" will be set up at Key Bank on Hartsel Drive by the end of the day Monday.