DENVER – Xcel Energy said Monday it hopes to have gas service restored by the end of the day Tuesday to most people who have been without it since last week because of the Marshall Fire in Boulder County.
The energy company said it had already restored service to around 5,000 customers as of Monday morning out of about 13,000 who had their gas shut off because of the fire on Thursday. By Monday evening, an additional 1,000 customers' service was restored.
Xcel has divided up the area with outages into nine regions where about 550 Xcel crew members are working to restore service and light people’s home and business pilot lights if their infrastructure is still intact.
But there are some areas still under evacuation orders, which the company says it will not be able to get to until the evacuations are lifted.
Xcel says in areas where service has been restored, crew members are going door to door to relight people’s pilot lights if their gas meters are working.
“Because relights must be done at each individual property, the process will likely continue over the next two days,” the company said in a statement. “With nearly 550 crew members working in the area, we expect most customers who are able to receive service will have service restored by the end of the day Tuesday for all areas not under evacuation orders.”
The company says someone age 18 or older needs to be home for the pilot lights to be relit. If no one is home, the company says it will leave tags on doors with instructions on how to get crews back to complete the process.
Crews will be out working and knocking on doors between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
"It means a lot to me to bring back gas service and help the community and just get everybody back in order," said lead gas fitter for Xcel Energy, Jacob Serrano. "It has just been a disaster with everything going on and it is just nice for me and my crew to be able to be part of the regrouping."
The majority of customers in Regions 5, 6, 7 and 8 have had all service restored and all pilot lights relit, according to Xcel.
In Regions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9 gas service has been restored and crews are working on relighting pilot lights.
With the exception of Regions 5, 6, 7 and 8, customers should not call Xcel Energy to schedule relights of pilot lights on their appliances unless they have received a door tag with instructions to do so.
People who are without gas service and heat can still pick up electric heaters from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at either the Red Cross shelter at the YMCA in Lafayette (2800 Dagny Way) or at the Superior Community Center (1500 Coalton Road).
On the electricity side, Xcel said everyone outside of the burn path had their service restored by Monday afternoon. Crews were going home-by-home and business-by-business inside the burn path, where about 400 customers were still without electricity. But an official said she expected most of those customers are unable to receive power because of infrastructure damage. By Monday evening, Xcel said all customers whose properties can accept electric service have had service restored or work is underway.
Investigators are still working to determine the cause and origin point of the fire, which burned more than 1,000 homes and businesses last Thursday in what officials have called a “firestorm” driven by extremely high winds and extreme drought conditions.
Two people remain missing, the county sheriff said Sunday.
"Luckily for us we have all of our material possessions and our house is intact," said Mark Weidner, a resident who lost gas service after Marshall Fire. "For us it is really just the emotional toll, and what we are experiencing with the kids having their town changed in a way we have never seen before."