Widespread gas outage impacts more than 3,500 meters with little warning
Most of Aspen without heat, hot water through Monday
A widespread gas outage late Sunday night left more than 3,500 Black Hills Energy customers in Aspen without heat or hot water and with little warning. The outage could last 12-36 hours for impacted residents, according to an update from Black Hills.
The energy company decided to “shut in” the system after “additional information came to light” on Sunday evening about Saturday’s service disruption, spokeswoman Carly West said Sunday night.
At approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, Black Hills Energy technicians began going door to door to turn off service at nearly 3,500 gas meters in Aspen to “ensure the safety of the system,” a news release stated.
A community meeting has been set for 6 p.m. Monday to give updates on the outage. In a Pitkin Alert at 1:30 p.m., officials said details on the meeting will be posted later Monday on the pitkincounty.com website site.
Black Hills Energy has established a landing page for the outage at blackhillsenergy.com/aspen; customers can call 888-890-5554 if their service has not been restored by 3 p.m. Monday. Residents should only call emergency services if they smell gas in their home or detect a leak.
“We understand the inconvenience and the concerns about the timing of it, but ultimately it was a safety decision,” West said.
As for the short notice (a community alert about the outage wasn’t dispatched around 10:15 p.m.), West said there were “a lot of components we were evaluating.”
After repairs and an evaluation of the system, technicians again will go door to door to help customers relight their systems and restore service. Customers will need to be present when technicians arrive to allow them to access residences and businesses, West said. Customers should not attempt to relight their own systems.
The initial disruption was caused by low pressure in the Black Hills Energy gas system, leaving approximately 50 Aspen customers without service for part of Saturday night and most of Sunday morning.
Vandalism at several Black Hills Energy assets caused the disruption, according to a news release from the company issued midday Sunday. Those disruptions occurred as isolated incidents throughout Aspen.
As of midafternoon Sunday, gas pressure was back to normal levels for the customers impacted by the initial disruption, and Black Hills Energy had dispatched technicians to help restore service to customers, West said. A Pitkin County community alert first reported the service issues late Saturday night.
Black Hills Energy is assisting the Aspen Police Department and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on an investigation into the incident, according to the news release. Aspen Police Sergeant Rick Magnuson is leading the active investigation, and anyone with additional information about the incident can contact him at 970-429-1806, Magnuson said.
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