Pipeline burst affects Eau Claire homes

Story by The Spectator staff

Xcel Energy, Eau Claire’s main provider of heat and electricity, is asking about 130,000 customers in three states to turn thermostats down following a pipeline explosion in Manitoba, Canada early Sunday morning.

Liz Wolf Green, an Xcel spokesperson, said while the explosion on a TransCanada pipeline  damaged two other pipelines that deliver natural gas to parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota, one of the three damaged gas lines has been repaired.

“We don’t know the cause of (the explosion) yet … but an accident like this is extremely rare,” Wolf Green said.

She said the explosion has affected about 46,000 Xcel customers from Dunn, Eau Claire, Chippewa and St. Croix counties.

Xcel called Eau Claire residents early Sunday morning and asked them to turn down heat in their homes to 60 degrees to conserve natural gas. Wolf Green said keeping home temps close to 60 helps stabilize the damaged pipelines.

“There’s no way to measure,” Wolf Green said. “But we believe it does improve the situation. We want to thank customers and we realize it’s inconvenient.”

A fire broke out around 1:15 a.m. Sunday on a pipeline near St. Pierre-Jolys, a town about 30 miles south of Winnipeg. Local police evacuated five homes, but no one was hurt.

Temperatures are expected to drop to 17 below zero tonight and as low as 22 below Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.