Natural gas expected to be restored to 7,200 Boulder County residents by Saturday night

Gas restored to 3,800 customers by 5 p.m.

DENVER - Sunday a.m. update: Xcel Energy has restored service to all but a few hundred customers in Boulder County affected by an outage that began Friday morning. Read more here:

10 p.m. update: At 10 p.m., Xcel reports they have restored gas service to over 5,000 customers in Boulder County.

5 p.m. update:  At 4:45 p.m.,  Xcel has restored service to 3,800 customers in Boulder County.

3 p.m. update:  Xcel Energy has nearly 300 people working to restore natural gas service throughout Niwot and other parts of Boulder County today. They are making progress, having restored service to more than 2,200 customers so far.

To restore service, we must go door to door to relight customers’ natural gas appliances. Access to customers’ homes is a critical factor in this process. We appreciate your patience and understand your house may be cold, but the more people who are at home, the more effective and faster the relight process will be.

A person 18 years or older must be home to allow our crews to enter. If you are unable to have someone at your home, please leave a contact phone number on a sheet of paper on your front door. We will call and arrange a time to return to your home later. However, please be aware that having access to your home is important to faster restoration of your service.

Depending upon weather and the number of residents who can meet our crews in their homes today for relights, we continue to anticipate most customers will have their service restored today. We estimate that we’ll be able to complete approximately 400 relights per hour.

Please do not attempt to relight natural gas appliances yourself. Not only can your appliances or equipment be damaged by improper relights but you can place yourself and your family in danger. Our employees will check your appliances and relight them for you free of charge.

The shelter at Douglass Elementary School is now closed. If you are in need of shelter assistance, please contact the American Red Cross at 303-722-7474.

At 1 p.m. today, Xcel Energy has restored service to approximately 2,200 customers affected by a Friday natural gas outage in parts of Niwot and Boulder County, Colo. Accessibility to homes and businesses has been very high, meaning we can get into a vast majority of premises today, and we thank you for your assistance in getting word out to our customers.

We still hope to have the majority of customers back in by this evening, but relighting efforts will continue overnight and into Sunday, particularly for homes and business we could not access today.

At 11 a.m. Saturday,  Xcel Energy has restored service to approximately 1,250 customers affected by a natural gas outage near Niwot. The American Red Cross has indicated that a warming center at Douglass Elementary will close at noon, and those needing assistance should contact the Red Cross directly at (303) 722-7474. 

At 9:45 a.m., the number of natural gas customers restored to service from the outage is approximately 800 customers, of the original 7,200 customers who lost service early Friday.  As expected, daytime conditions are helping the pace of restoration.

Xcel Energy estimates that its crews will be able to restore service to approximately 400 homes and businesses per hour, which would take the company into the early evening hours to complete restoration to the majority of customers.

All customers should know that someone has to be home, of at least 18 years or older, to provide access for workers restoring service. Customers should call Xcel Energy at 800 895-2999 for any questions.

9 A.M. Saturday update from Xcel Energy:  We were able to restore service to about 450 customers in Boulder County overnight. More than 200 crew members are currently conducting relights in the affected neighborhoods and we expect to have the majority of these customers back in service by late afternoon today.

Excel encourages anyone without heat to seek shelter elsewhere. Boulder County has set up a shelter at Douglass Elementary School, located at 840 75th Street in Boulder, which will allow pets. Before leaving home, it’s important to turn on water faucets to a slow drip to help prevent frozen water pipes and ensure the water is draining.

Despite the bitter cold, 180 Xcel Energy men and women are making progress in restoring service to customers in Niwot and other parts of Boulder County. Once all natural gas meters are turned off, they will go door-to-door beginning at approximately 11pm tonight to begin relighting customers’ natural gas appliances.

We are also calling customers to let them know our crews will be in their neighborhoods. A person 18 years or older must be home to allow our crews to enter and remain with them as they finish their work. Please remember to leave a front porch light on to indicate you are home and we can stop by to check your appliances and restart your service.

We will have crews working throughout the night while others are released so they can get some rest. Beginning tomorrow morning we will have approximately 234 people on board to complete relights. We expect most customers will have natural gas service back tomorrow.

Please do not attempt to relight natural gas appliances yourself. Not only can your appliances or equipment be damaged by improper relights but you can place yourself and your family in danger. Our employees will check your appliances and relight them for you free of charge.

Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said a major natural gas regulator station near Niwot suffered an equipment failure starting around 6 a.m. Friday.  Reports of the outage started to roll in about an hour later.

In order for the teams to get in and ignite those pilot lights, the company requires a resident who is at least 18-years old be present. Xcel asked affected customers to call 800-895-4999 to provide a cell phone number that can be used while coordinating these visits.

"It’s going to take a lot because they have to go door to door to light everybody's pilot light," said Clarence Cook.  "It's  a big headache."

To supplement Colorado crews working to restore natural gas service to customers Xcel Energy crews from around the state, and from Minnesota and Wisconsin are being brought in. The company has also contacted utilities in California and New Mexico, and private companies. When all crews are fully in place, Xcel anticipates they will have nearly 300 people supporting the restoration effort.

Boulder County is setting up warming shelters for affected residents and Xcel is encouraging customers to take advantage of the offer after turning their faucets on a slow drip to keep pipes from freezing.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at Douglas Elementary, at 840 75th St. in Boulder.  They told 7NEWS they planned to keep the shelter open overnight Friday. Pets were allowed with their owners at the shelter.

Boulder Valley School District's Heatherwood Elementary was impacted by the gas outage. The 400-student school at 7750 Concord Dr. reported an average interior temperature of 65 degrees and was moving students to interior classrooms.

The Celestial Seasonings factory and offices were also affected, but reported they were still open.

At McGuckin Hardware in Boulder, more than a thousand portable heaters were sold on Friday.  Extra units had to be trucked in after the shelves quickly became empty.

Hilary Boslet is going back to the basics to stay warm, waiting for her gas service to be restored.

"I'm so glad that I have a fire, fire place to stay warm,” she said.  Boslet is trying to prevent her pipes from freezing.

"I have the heater on, I've got the water dripping in the kitchen and the bathroom." 

Boulder County's Office of Emergency Management recommended using a space heater to keep critical water pipes warm during the gas outage, but also shared this list of heater safety tips:

-Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.

-Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements.

-Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.

-Never leave children unattended near a space heater.

-Have the following safety equipment available:

  -Chemical fire extinguisher

  -Smoke alarm in working order (Check once a month and change batteries once a year.)

  -Carbon monoxide detector

-Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning: Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.

-Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

Xcel also had a power outage in east Denver Friday morning. About 2,600 customers lost power at 6:21 a.m. Xcel restored power at 11 a.m.

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