Pipeline blast brings natural gas crunch, pain at the pump


11:24am Updated

FortisBC requested customers across B.C. turn off their thermostats and limit use of all other natural gas appliances - an alert echoed by Puget Sound Energy, which serves 10 counties in western Washington, and Cascade Natural Gas, which serves dozens of communities in Washington and Oregon.

Even though the explosion near Prince George in British Columbia occurred along an Enbridge natural gas pipeline, the ripple effects of the resulting cut-off are likely to travel into the petroleum industry.

The agency will work closely with the Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating the incident, he said.

Terry Teegee, Assembly of First Nations regional chief, said he's still shaken by what he witnessed outside his home on the Lhedli T'enneh First Nation reserve near the site of the explosion.

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland.

So far no injuries have been reported.

Vancouver Island residents face higher gasoline prices and are being asked to turn down the heat as a natural gas shortage looms after Tuesday's explosion and fire on the pipeline that supplies most of the natural gas handled by Fortis B.C.

Teegee, whose home is about one kilometre from the site, said he and most members of the community of about 100 people spent the night in hotels or with friends.

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The Enbridge natural gas pipeline that exploded Tuesday evening is a feeder for the province-wide gas distribution system and, because of this, FortisBC says it anticipates decreased energy flow and potential loss of service.

The explosion happened only about two kilometres from the reserve, forcing residents to quickly flee, he said.

"When we were outside, I could feel the debris fall in my hair", he said.

"We're not going to move away because of one explosion", Frederick said.

"Turn your thermostats down as low as possible, obviously that depends on the region you're in what you can do, minimize the use of hot water if you've got a gas water heater, turn off your fireplace".

"We sort of trained for it. because of the wildfires", Frederick said of the speedy evacuation.

"A cause will be determined following an investigation of the incident", Barnes said.

Meanwhile, Fortis BC told NEWS 1130 that none of its pipelines had been damaged in the fire but that they will continue to monitor the situation.

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