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Tap Water Catches On Fire In Debby And Jason Kline's Ohio Home Due To Methane Levels

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First Posted: 01/12/13 EST Updated: 01/14/13 EST

If you can't take the heat... don't turn on the water?

A few weeks ago, one Ohio family was shocked when their tap water caught on fire, NBC News reported Friday.

Debby Kline told the station that lighting a candle near the running faucet set off "a huge explosion -- the entire sink up to the ceiling."

The Portage County woman said she had previously noticed the water "fizzing."

Dangerously high levels of methane -- a highly flammable gas -- in the water appear to be the culprit. A natural gas company began drilling near the home six months ago, NBC 4 reported, and the Klines suspect the company may be responsible for their flammable water.

Methane gas occurs naturally in the ground, and can seep into wells when the ground is disturbed. A Duke University study linked natural gas drilling to high methane levels in well water in 2011.

Prior to the drilling, the methane levels detected in the Klines' tap water -- which comes from a well -- were 9 milligrams per liter (mg/L), which is considered safe. Now, the levels have spiked to 22 mg/L.

According to a methane fact sheet from the Water Systems Council, "Wells with levels between 10 and 28 mg/L should be regularly monitored, and well owners may wish to consider treatment to lower the methane level."

The Klines said that because purchasing a methane filter would cost around $8,000. For now, they're drinking bottled water, but they're still bathing in the water straight of the tap.

"We don't know the consequences of sitting in gas water," Debby told TODAY. "We just don't have a choice."

Methane in drinking water is not "usually" considered a health threat, according to the Water Systems Council. The real danger occurs when the gas escapes from the water and builds up in the air, especially in "poorly ventilated or confined areas."

The Council's fact sheet states that in addition to presenting explosion hazards, methane in the air "acts as an asphyxiate," which means it can "displace air and can cause breathing and other health problems."