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Vandals leave approximately 3,500 homes without gas in Pitkin County and Aspen

Black Hills Energy said vandals caused damage to its system Sunday night, causing thousands of customers to have the gas shut off.

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo. — Technicians worked throughout the night Monday into Tuesday after an outage left about 3,500 Pitkin County homes without gas Sunday night, something Black Hills Energy said was caused by vandals.

The technicians began the relighting process at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning after purging and repressurizing Aspen's natural gas system. 

The process will continue for residential properties throughout Tuesday until 11 p.m., and it will begin again Wednesday morning until all homes have been serviced. Residents are asked to clear snow from gas meters and be available at home to help expedite the process.

Black Hills technicians went door-to-door starting at 10 p.m. Sunday to turn off about 3,500 gas meters, the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) said.

Black Hills Energy said if no one was home at the time, employees left a notification on the door that the gas had been shut off and that homeowners need to call the company to have their gas turned back on.

The county asked that nobody attempt to relight appliances on their own. 

In a community meeting Monday night, Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said that a multi-jurisdictional investigation is underway to figure out how the vandalism happened and who did it. 

Credit: City of Aspen

"Residents, bare with us," Pryor said. "Hopefully normal will return soon."

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo asked that neighbors check on each other since the outage meant many were going without heat or hot water. 

Anyone affected is being asked to not call 911. For natural gas outage information, call Black Hills Energy at 888-890-5554. 

Anyone with tips can call 970-920-5400.

Vance Crocker, vice president of operations for Colorado Black Hills Energy, said the process to restore the gas takes a while because there is a prescriptive process to bring customers back. Crews need to make sure all steps are followed and the system is brought back 100% safely. 

Crocker said 150 technicians are working and 4,000 space heaters are being distributed while services are repaired. 

The heaters can be picked up in front of the Aspen Police Department on Main Street. 

Lindsay Maisch, deputy director for Pitkin County Human Services, said human services is responsible for support services and making sure vulnerable individuals are being cared for. Anyone who needs help with temporary lodging, heat or hot food can call 970-379-1490.

> Find more info at blackhillsenergy.com/aspen

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