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Gas nearly restored in Kay County

Updated:
BLACKWELL, Okla. (AP) _ A utility has restored natural gas to most of the more than 4,000 customers in northern Oklahoma who lost the service Tuesday and have been enduring freezing weather without heat, a spokeswoman for the company said Friday.

A total of 4,390 customers, 3,000 in Blackwell and 1,390 in Tonkawa, lost their natural gas service on Tuesday after an equipment malfunction.

``We've got maybe a few hundred (without gas) scattered in the two communities,'' Alicia Dixon, a spokeswoman for Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, said Friday morning. ``Providing we can have access to homes to re-light pilots, we will have everyone back on today.''

The malfunction at a regulator station caused a drop in pressure that disrupted the supply of natural gas, Dixon said. To bring the pressure back up, gas had to be turned off at customers' meters, she said.

The gas outage occurred as a cold front moved into the state, dropping overnight temperatures into the 20s, according to the National Weather Service. And snowfall on Wednesday and Thursday hampered the efforts of technicians who were working to restore gas to residents.

``The timing was really unfortunate, because the cold weather moved in,'' Dixon said. ``And when you have snow and ice you can't move as quickly and safely as you want to.''

About 100 service technicians from Oklahoma and Arkansas were assigned to Kay County to help restore gas service, Dixon said.

Service was restored at schools in Blackwell, and classes resumed Thursday. Tonkawa schools did not close.

Service also was restored Wednesday to nursing homes and hospitals, and workers sought out homes with elderly residents.

A temporary shelter was established Tuesday night at the Blackwell Youth Center, but there were never more than about a dozen people who stayed there, said Dennis Bonewell, Kay County emergency management director.

``Folks won't leave their homes,'' Bonewell said. ``It's just really hard to get them to do that.

``There were quite a few that went to motels right away. By 8 or 9 o'clock Tuesday evening, there wasn't a motel room in Kay County.''

CenterPoint serves approximately 105,000 customers in Oklahoma, including residents in Lawton, McAlester, Cushing and Duncan.
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