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Cold Pueblo: Thousands without heat, city opens shelters
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Cold Pueblo: Thousands without heat, city opens shelters

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Thousands are without heat as bitter cold has disrupted Southern Arizona's natural gas supplies.

Natural gas customers in Tucson's Rita Ranch and eastern Foothills, and those in the Sierra Vista area south of Buffalo Soldier Trail and south to Hereford, have been impacted, Southwest Gas said.

About 14,000 customers are affected, the company said.

It may take until Monday or Tuesday before service is restored to some areas, the company said.

Below-freezing temperatures are forecast for Thursday night, the National Weather Service said.

The city will open shelters for those without heat due to the natural gas shortage Thursday.

Shelters at Udall Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Rd., and Pantano Christian Church, 10355 E. 29th St., will open at 5 p.m.

Pets in crates will be allowed at the Udall Center, but not at the church.

From the city:

Both shelters will provide a communal area for people with cots, blankets, comfort kits, and basic food/water. If you plan to go to a shelter, remember to take appropriate medications, personal toiletries and sanitation items, baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers), cell phones with chargers, and supplies for pets (crates, collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl). If you will be taking children to the shelter, remember to bring their comfort items and/or special toys to keep them occupied.

The Red Cross is opening a warming station at Apache Middle School in Sierra Vista, the organization said.

Tucson's police and fire departments will facilitate transportation to shelters for anyone who need it, said TPD Sgt. Diana Lopez.

"A citizen can call 911 and the operator will facilitate the ride to the shelter or contact the Red Cross.  Officers will be staffed for the call load and any other police related matters," she said.

From Southwest Gas:

If you live in (the affected areas), you do not need to notify Southwest Gas because we are currently working to restore service as soon as possible. Customers are advised not to turn off their gas meter, use their natural gas appliances, and are also advised to set their thermostat to the off or into a non-demand position so that the furnace does not cycle on/off.

When service is being restored to homes and businesses, Southwest Gas personnel will directly contact customers. At that time, they will need access to the natural gas meter and entry. Also, inside and outside lights must be on and an adult home during the dark, evening hours.

Customers who currently have natural gas service are asked to conserve on Thursday and Friday while service is being restored.

Freezing temperatures overnight caused many Tucson Water pumps to fail, while frozen and broken pipes on private property were reported across the area, leaving many home and businesses without water.

High demand by residential customers and power companies led to the natural gas shortage, El Paso Natural Gas said in a news release. The company supplies the gas used by Southwest's customers

"More gas is being taken off our system than we have supplies coming into the system," the company said in a news release.

El Paso is pushing all the gas it can through the pipeline that supplies Tucson, the company said.

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