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February 25th, 2016:

Natural Gas Outage on Coldest Night of Year Left Several Buildings Damaged

American Energy Coalition - February 25th, 2016

Fallout from a natural gas outage on the coldest day of the year continues to plague some buildings in town, including a local church and the public library, according to a recent article by The New Britain Herald. The outage came in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, as temperatures dropped below zero.

A single natural gas regulator froze in the harsh conditions, knocking out gas to hundreds of homes and businesses, and the utility failed to notify property owners in a timely manner.

“While it’s difficult to say exactly how many structures in town were damaged due to the outage, Deputy Fire Marshal Matt Odishoo said, the Fire Department responded to between 15 and 20 calls from both homes and businesses in the days following the gas service disruption,” the article states.

One of those calls was on Feb. 16 to the Berlin Congregational Church, where all three of the building’s furnaces stopped working, the Rev. Mark Pilletere told the Herald. Pipes in the building that date back to 1848, were leaking in 24 separate locations, he reported.

Pilletere told the Herald he was frustrated by the lack of notification and communication by Connecticut Natural Gas on the day of the outage. “He found out about the interrupted service from local news outlets as he was walking into the church around 8:15 a.m. the morning of the disruption,” the article states. “He called both the 24-hour hotline and the emergency number listed to report a gas leak. No one answered either line, he said.”

Connecticut Natural Gas spokesperson Joan Huwiler told the Herald that staffing and the early morning hours of the outage played a part in the unanswered calls. “It took us a bit of time to get additional staff to come in from home to handle the incoming calls that were coming into the Connecticut Natural Gas office,” she said.

She was unsure of the number of insurance claims the natural gas supplier has received due to the outage. Out of 417 Connecticut Natural Gas customers in town, 298 customers on 22 streets were affected.

At the Berlin Free Public Library, the community center in the lower level of the building sustained a significant amount of water damage from the building’s sprinkler system, which was activated when a sprinkler pipe broke, according to the Fire Department.

To read the New Britain Herald article, click here.

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