Natural Gas outage affects 7,000 in Boulder County; Red Cross opening shelters

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Residents in parts of Boulder County lost natural gas Friday morning and utility provider Xcel said the expect most customers to have service restored by noon Saturday.

An Xcel spokeswoman said the outages were in Niwot, Gunbarrel and southwestern Longmont.

Xcel said about 7,000 customers were affected by the outage.

The utility has called-in additional resources from around the state and from Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and New Mexico.

“With temperatures hovering in the single digits, we want to restart service as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement.

Xcel has not said what caused the leak.

Customers who lose natural gas should not re-light appliances themselves.

“Not only can your appliances or equipment be damaged by improper re-lights but you can place yourself and your family in danger. Our employees will check your appliances and re-light them for you free of charge,” the company said.

You can call Xcel at 1-800-295-4999 to provide a cell phone for crews to schedule a time to re-light your appliances.

The Red Cross is opening shelters for people who don’t have heat. One shelter is at Douglas Elementary School in Boulder.

Xcel released a statement Friday afternoon with tips for consumers who lost their natural gas.

If your pipes freeze, avoid using blow torches or open flames to try to heat them. Just yesterday, Dec. 5, 2013, someone caused a fire in a mobile home while using a blow torch to heat frozen pipes. Although no one was injured, the mobile home suffered extensive damage from the fire.

If you have neighbors who are elderly or who are physically/mentally challenged, please check on them to make sure they’re okay. If they are in need of medical attention, call 9-1-1.

If you use a space heater, remember to follow safety guidelines including:

• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from flammable objects like curtains, furniture and bedding.
• Make sure to keep a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around space heaters and fires.
• Use space heaters only when you’re present in your home or business, and only while you’re awake. Never use space heaters while you sleep.