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Natural gas service restored in Manitoba communities after pipeline explosion

TransCanada crews work on a gas pipeline leak that occurred just outside Otterburne, Manitoba, Monday, January 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

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TransCanada crews work on a gas pipeline leak that occurred just outside Otterburne, Manitoba, Monday, January 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

WINNIPEG - Natural gas was back again Tuesday in all Manitoba communities that had been left without heat following a pipeline explosion.

TransCanada said service was restored to most communities overnight Monday and gas began flowing to the rest by Tuesday afternoon.

"TransCanada expects no further interruptions to regular natural gas service for these communities as we continue to make repairs to the pipelines and valve station to bring them back into service," the company said in a release.

Although the gas was flowing, it was expected that it might take a little longer for heat to return. Manitoba Hydro said just over half the affected 3,600 homes and businesses were warm, but added it could take a couple of days longer for remote customers.

That's because Hydro employees are going door-to-door to make sure service has been properly restored and to relight pilot lights if necessary.

"This is an extensive restoration effort and it could take up to two days for service to be restored to some customers in remote locations," the utility said in its written update.

Ten communities in south-central Manitoba lost natural gas service because of the explosion at a valve site near St. Pierre-Jolys early Saturday. The flames were put out by that afternoon, but crews have been working around the clock since in extreme cold to restore gas supplies.

Temperatures which have hovered below -20 C, along with blowing snow and blizzard conditions, have slowed efforts to restore heat and investigate the cause of the blast.

The RCMP has said the explosion is not considered suspicious.

There were no reports of injuries.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

"If we determine that any processes or procedures need to be enhanced or adjusted as a result of this incident, we will make them," TransCanada said. "What we learn from this incident will be used to make our pipeline network stronger and safer."

The company apologized to customers and said it would reimburse those affected for any costs incurred because of the disruption.

"Although regular natural gas service has been restored, we are not going anywhere," the company said.

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