"DENVER—Melanie Bounds remembers talking to her husband outside on their deck when an explosion blew the roof off the building housing their water well. She could see her husband's mouth moving, but couldn't hear what he was saying.

"It was deafening," Bounds said.

More than two years later, the Bounds still have to vent their well and home to make sure the methane gas responsible for the big boom doesn't rebuild to explosive levels. Ben and Melanie Bounds and other residents of Huerfano County in south-central Colorado blame natural gas drilling for the methane that has seeped into their wells and made them fear switching on lights in their homes.

That's why they and their neighbors on the edge of the San Luis Valley are warily watching as Petroglyph Energy seeks state and federal approval to run tests to try to stop the methane leaks and eventually start drilling again.

After investigating the Bounds' explosion and other complaints, state regulators halted Petroglyph's operations in July 2007. A state order requires the Boise, Idaho-based company to monitor water wells, remove methane from water and find a way to keep the methane from migrating before starting to drill again.

A hearing is set for Monday in Walsenburg, about 10 miles east of the Bounds' property, on Petroglyph's request for a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency to pump water and reinject it into wells. The company hopes to create a barrier of water to prevent methane from going where it shouldn't.

Pumping the area groundwater is thought to be at the heart of the problems plaguing area landowners. Petroglyph has drilled 52 coal bed methane wells in the area. Pumping huge volumes of groundwater frees the natural gas trapped in the coal beds.

The problem, said Bounds, is the flow of gas isn't under control. She believes the gas, freed by the release of water pressure, is moving through underground fractures.

"We are being forced right now to live with something that is colorless, odorless and has the potential to harm us," said Bounds, who with her husband is suing Petroglyph over the methane problems." More>>>>