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Cold Pueblo

Southwest Gas working to restore service

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Southwest Gas will complete turning off the gas for 14,000 customers without service Friday, and company workers will start re-lighting gas appliances by going door to door, a spokesman said.

Tucson's natural gas crisis was caused by low pressure in the delivery pipeline from Texas, said the company's director of administration, Bennett Burke.

It could be Tuesday before all customers have service restored, Burke said.

Southwest Gas will make return trips to houses were customers aren't at home when they first visit, he said.

The company has 200 technicians working on restoring service, he said.

“We’re throwing everything we can at it,” Burke said. About half of the workers are from outside Tucson, he said.

About 7,000 homes in Rita Ranch had gas service shut off Friday morning, with another 7,000 customers expected to lose service.

Service must be shut off, to allow service to be restored safely, without gas leaks.

Workers must enter customers' homes to restore service, Burke said. They relight pilot lights and make safety checks, which takes about 10-15 minutes, he said.

Southwest Gas had a contract for enough natural gas to handle a cold snap, Burke said.

El Paso Natural Gas, which operates the delivery pipeline running from Texas, could not meet the contract, he said.

A freeze in Texas caused many natural gas wells to shut down, and a series of rolling blackouts in that state complicated energy delivery.

Only nine residents went to two shelters set up overnight, at the Udall Center and Pantano Christian Church.

Even homes that have gas service have been affected by the cold. Frozen and broken pipes on private property, and trouble with water mains, have left many without water after temperatures that dropped well below freezing.

The cold also shut down some Tucson Water pumps, leading many without water service Thursday, a spokesman said.

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