1 of 2 pipelines back on after gas line explosion near Prince George, B.C.

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One of two pipelines has been turned back on after a natural gas explosion damaged the other and saw homes evacuated on Tuesday, but British Columbians are still being asked to conserve gas as a possible shortage looms.

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The smaller, 30-inch Enbridge pipeline was shut down as a precaution after the 36-inch line exploded in Shelley, northeast of Prince George, at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Gas was flowing in that line again as of early Thursday, according to FortisBC.

The electricity and gas company said the line was carefully checked before it received permission to restart it at about 80 per cent of normal capacity.

Supply still limited

A statement from FortisBC said gas supply across the province will continue to be limited as the larger, damaged pipeline is still being repaired. 

Doug Stout, vice-president of market development with FortisBC, said the Lower Mainland could see a four to eight-cent jump in gas prices as a result of the possible shortage. 

The company has asked all British Columbians to avoid any “non-essential” use of natural gas.

Residents can conserve gas by turning down their thermostats, turning off fireplaces and reducing use of gas-powered hot water and cooking appliances.

As many as 700,000 B.C. customers could be affected. 5:36

Operations across several industries have been shut down to conserve energy:

  • Canfor, a pulp mill in Prince George, has temporarily closed two of its sawmills.
  • Lantic Inc., a sugar refinery with operations in Vancouver, has been asked to cease operations.

Explosion prompts evacuations

A bright, orange fireball from the explosion could be seen for kilometres and homes within the vicinity were evacuated as a precaution. Residents, who said the explosion sounded like thunder, were allowed to return about two hours later.

RCMP said there was no damage to anything other than the pipeline and no one was injured. 

No cause of the explosion has been determined and . The National Energy Board is investigating.

With files from Yvette Brend, Wil Fundal, Andrew Kurjata and Lien Yeung

Read more from CBC British Columbia

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/prince-george-explosion-1.4858360?cmp=rss