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Heat slowly returning following gas pipeline explosion

WINNIPEG – Heat is back on in some homes as south-central Manitobans struggle to stay warm Monday, the third day of a natural gas outage caused by a pipeline explosion Saturday.

The natural gas supply was restored in Ste. Agathe before noon.

Manitoba Hydro staff were going door-to-door in Ste. Agathe to make sure service is properly restored.

Manitoba Hydro had said the supply of gas, the overwhelmingly predominant fuel used for heating in the region, could be restored to the region as early as Monday night, but warned that it could take at least two full days to restore service to some customers.

RELATED: Thousands remain without heat in southern Manitoba after pipeline explosion

The temperature was below 0 C at the Niverville Pharmacy, where several electric heaters were running on Monday morning.

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Owner Karam Abdelnour said insulin and vaccines have gotten too cold so he can’t fill orders for those items.

“I’m very concerned,’ he said. I need to know what happened. There needs to be an explanation.”

The rural municipality of Hanover declared a state of emergency as it struggled to cope with the lack of heat.

The outage has affected about 4,000 Manitoba Hydro natural gas customers, including those in New Bothwell, Niverville, Otterburne, St-Pierre-Jolys, Grunthal, St. Malo, Dufrost, Ste. Agathe, Marchand and Kleefeld.

TransCanada Corp. plans to hold a news conference in Île-des-Chênes at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Global News will live stream the news conference at globalnews.ca/winnipeg.

Schools in many of the communities are closed Monday morning due to the lack of heat. The following schools are closed to all students and staff:

  • Green Valley
  • Kleefeld
  • Niverville Collegiate
  • Niverville Elementary
  • South Oaks
  • École Heritage Immersion
  • Institut Collegial de St. Pierre
  • École St. Malo
  • Providence University College and Seminary

RELATED: Cold weather, poor roads cause school closures

Warming centres open to residents include:

  • New Bothwell Christian Fellowship Church
  • Grunthal Abundant Life Fellowship Church
  • St. Pierre Manor
  • Ste. Agathe Community Centre, 185 Main St.
  • Niverville Heritage Centre
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A provincial byelection Tuesday for the riding of Morris, which includes some of the affected area, will continue, with a polling centre open at the Niverville Heritage Centre.

RELATED: Manitoba byelections set for Tuesday

No one was injured in the pipeline explosion between Otterburne, Man., and Highway 59, but TransCanada Corp., which owns the pipeline, had to shut it down due to the fire. The other pipeline that supplies gas to the area was also shut off as a safety precaution as repairs are made.

Residents in the rural municipalities of Hanover, Ritchot and De Salaberry are affected by the natural gas outages.

All of the affected areas are under wind chill warnings on Monday morning.

— With files from Lauren McNabb and Megan Batchelor