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Hydro hooking up natural gas service this evening

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Manitoba Hydro expects several communities in the Red River Valley will have natural gas service restored beginning late Monday evening.

The first stage of restoration for some 4,000 area residents is expected to provide gas to rural municipalities north of the damaged Otterburne pipeline, which exploded in a huge fireball early Saturday morning. The communities include Ste. Agathe, Niverville, New Bothwell, Kleefeld, Otterburne and Marchand. The second stage — approximately four hours later — will provide gas to the RM of De Salaberry south of the damaged section, including the communities of St. Malo, St. Pierre-Jolys, Grunthal and Dufrost.

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As of 5 p.m. on Monday, officials could not specify exactly when customer service would be restored.

Why? Because TransCanada Corporation had yet to narrow down when they could begin supplying gas until "late Monday evening." It will take additional time before Manitoba Hydro can begin the process of providing gas to customers down the line.

"I can’t say for sure," said Manitoba Hydro spokesman Scott Powell, when asked about specific restoration times. "It will all depend on TransCanada and they’re working as hard as they can to restore service."

According to Manitoba Hydro, once gas supply has been established by TransCanada, 200 Manitoba Hydro service personnel will start going door to door to confirm gas service is properly restored and to relight pilot lights, if necessary. All Manitoba Hydro service personnel will be wearing identifying clothing and have photo identification.

Should customers smell natural gas in their homes, they should immediately call 1-888-MB-HYDRO (1-888-624-9376).

If a customer is not at home, service personnel will visually attempt to confirm the restoration of gas service from the exterior and leave a card asking the customer to call Manitoba Hydro, the release stated.

Although the majority of customers will see a quick resumption of gas service, Manitoba Hydro’s restoration effort will still be extensive and it could take at least two full days for some customers who are further away from the main pipeline.

The release continued:

To ensure a safe and speedy restoration, Manitoba Hydro is asking all customers affected by the natural gas outage to take the following steps: Turn down your thermostat; ensure natural gas appliances such as ovens and cooktops are turned off.

Customers should also familiarize themselves with the location of their water supply shut-off. Once natural gas and heat is restored, water and sewer lines should be monitored to ensure water pipes, hot water tanks or plumbing fixtures have not frozen. There is a risk that frozen water systems may not be obvious until building heat is fully restored. If water systems start leaking, customers should immediately shut off the water supply to prevent flooding and contact a plumbing contractor.

If the hot water tank was drained, it must be filled with water prior to being turned on again. If customers wish to relight or restore power to the water heater, the appliance manufacturer’s instructions must be followed. It can be potentially dangerous to activate a water heater that has been drained.

Many newer natural gas furnaces will not require a pilot light to be relit. They have electronic ignition systems. These systems may automatically restart once gas supply has been restored. In some cases the power to the furnace may need to be turned off and reactivated for the ignition systems to operate. Turning the power source (switch or breaker) to off then on will allow the furnace to reset.

Until natural gas service is restored, customers are reminded only approved space heaters should be used. Use of appliances not approved for indoor use, such as barbecues, kerosene heaters or temporary gas space heaters can produce harmful levels of carbon monoxide and pose a dangerous fire risk. Construction heaters come in all shapes and sizes and may be acceptable temporary heating alternatives if installed properly (as per manufacturer’s directions by a licenced professional) and with due consideration for surrounding combustibles. Customers should consult their local heating dealers or electricians.

More information about what to do during a gas outage is available at www.hydro.mb.ca.

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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