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Pipeline explosion: Immense explosion leaves 4,000 sans heat, state of emergency

A pipeline explosion near Otterburne in Canada has left over 4,000 people sans gas to heat their homes this weekend. Local authorities have already managed to conduct an investigation into the immense pipeline blast and determined that the cause is “not suspicious.” Nonetheless, a state of emergency has been announced in the Rural Municipality of Hanover and beyond due to the extreme cold weather and potential lack of heat for thousands of families. Yahoo! News reports this Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, that the detonation — which was said to rock the region for miles — occurred roughly 50 kilometers south of Winnipeg.

Image of the Manitoba pipeline explosion and fire
Photo File, Free Press Winnipeg

The pipeline explosion continues to be investigated by officials, and is noted by some to have happened at the worst possible time during this bitter winter season. Up to 4,000 people are believed to no longer have access to gas that would be used to heat a number of local homes while the pipeline remains offline. Temperatures in the Otterburne, Canada area are said to be dropping to lower than -20 degrees C, which would feel for the next couple days somewhere around -34 degrees Celsius after factoring in the frigid wind chill.

The immense outage was said to have occurred after a major natural gas pipeline suddenly blew up late Friday night. It was recorded to have burned wildly for well over 12 hours, though it has since been contained and deemed safe. Officials have confirmed that the damage, however, will take some time to repair, and in the meantime has left thousands in a few nearby communities without any access to heat.

Although investigative services have determined that the explosion’s cause is not a suspicious one, authorities with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are nonetheless examining the case in order to discover just what went wrong.

According to the press release on the pipeline explosion:

“The Rural Municipality of Hanover declared a state of local emergency this Saturday afternoon in a news release that said the natural gas outage was expected to last 24 to 72 hours. Temperatures dipped to near -20 C overnight, and on Sunday, Environment Canada issued a blowing snow warning for the Winnipeg area. Winds made the temperature feel more like -34.”

"We are in the midst of another temperature drop. A bit of an Arctic front is moving in here, and to the south of us, there is a blizzard system, so people in this area are going to get a nasty, cold, winter storm day," CBC's spokeswoman Katie Nicholson reported in a recent announcement.

Another spokesperson for the Emergency Measures Department also spoke about the coming cold weather this week. Fortunately, she said that despite some 4,000 people being without power for a brief but still precisely unknown amount of time, authorities are working on resolving the problem and are offering shelter and heating sites for people in need of warmth during the severe weather.

"We know it's cold and people may be concerned about that but we are on the job here. Everyone here's communicating well. We have a great group of people at the site and in the communities who have set up their emergency operation centers to handle this dilemma."

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