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Natural gas restored for some residents affected by explosion

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Residents of Otterburne can now heat their homes and boil their water again with natural gas.

Shirley Bernardin said today a Manitoba Hydro worker came shortly after 11 a.m. to relight the pilot light in her furnace and hot water heater. She said the worker told her the community had been hooked up to an auxiliary tanker.

"This has definitely been an interesting experience," Bernardin said, noting her gas was off from Saturday at 1:30 a.m. to today.

"I’m so happy. I have been praying for all the workmen and workwomen who are out in this cold trying to restart things for us.

"We at least can sit around a heater."

Thousands of people still remain without natural gas as crews from TransCanada Corporation (TCC) continue to work on a section of natural gas pipeline that exploded near Otterburne just after midnight Saturday morning.

"We're trying to make do with what we have," said Derek Dowan, a Niverville resident who stayed home from work today to look after his two children, Daniel and Dave.

"We pulled the mattress off the bed and put it in the living room, so we had a big sleepover. We got all the blankets we had, all the pillows we could find, and bundled up.

"It hasn't been too bad. It was a little cold at night."

Dowan said it was near 4 C in the house when he woke this morning. He's been running an electric heater and using the stove in the kitchen to keep his family warm.

Dowan's wife Terri, who was at work at a local bakery, said the community really came together over the weekend.

"People are checking in with one another, making sure everyone is OK," she said. "We're all in this together."

Leave frozen homes, province urges

Province officials warned residents living without a furnace to leave their homes if they cannot properly heat it. Without heat, water pipes will freeze and the risk of hypothermia and frost bite increases.

Temporary warming shelters have been established at several locations.

The province also said it could be another 48 hours—and perhaps longer—for natural gas service to begin to be restored to approximately 15,000 Manitobans. Communities affected include New Bothwell, Niverville, Otterburne, Kleefeld, St-Pierre-Jolys, Grunthal, St. Malo, Dufrost and Ste. Agathe.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton also warned residents not to heat their homes with anything other than an approved electric heater.

"There’s a real risk if people use barbecues for example and other heaters that are not meant for residences," Ashton said, adding they could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Natural gas tanker trucks are also in place at all health-care facilities in the area to ensure heating is maintained. A total of nine tanker trucks are supplying gas to affected communities.

Lee Spencer, acting executive director of Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, said homeowners who leave their residences should shut off the main water line and drain internal pipes to avoid frozen or broken pipes when heat is restored.

"We’re entering into the 48-hour window and there are still a day or two maybe to go in this crisis," Spencer said. "We ask neighbours to look in on their neighbours. We all think of the person that we know who may elderly and we’ve always considered to be self-sufficient and independent. Make sure they have warmth, they have food and they understand how they can get support."

Staying warm

TEMPORARY WARMING SHELTERS

RM of Hanover

Grunthal – Abundant Life Church, PR 216 South

New Bothwell – Christian Fellowship Church, 20 Sara Ave.

RM of De Salaberry

The Manor Retirement Home, 449 Jolys Ave., St-Pierre-Jolys

St. Malo Chalet Retirement Home

Otterburne residents to use St-Pierre-Jolys, Dufrost to use St. Malo

Town of Niverville

Niverville Heritage Centre – 2 Ave. S, Niverville.

LOCAL EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTRES

RM of Hanover

(Kleefeld, Grunthal, New Bothwell, Friedensfeld)
Public inquiry line: 204-326-4488, ext. 6120
Public information officer: 204-326-4488, ext. 6135
Emergency Operations Centre location – Steinbach RM Office, 28 Westland Dr.

RM of De Salaberry
(Dufrost, St. Malo, St-Pierre-Jolys, Otterburne)
Public inquiry line: 204-433-7406
Emergency Operations Centre location – St-Pierre-Jolys Town Office, 555 Hebert Ave.

RM of Richot
Public inquiry line: 204-883-2918
Emergency Operations Centre location – St. Adolphe Emergency Operations Centre, fire hall

Niverville
Public inquiry line: 204-388-4600
Emergency Operations Centre location – Niverville Town Office, 86 Main St.

RECEPTION CENTRE

RM of De Salaberry, Bible Fellowship Centre, Lavoie Avenue, St-Pierre-Jolys

Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press

Aerial view Monday of the site of the TransCanada pipeline explosion and fire.

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History

Updated on Monday, January 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM CST: Residents of Otterburne now have access to natural gas.

1:15 PM: Adds streaming video.

2:46 PM: Adds aerial image, comment from provincial officials.

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