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For the week of Jan 30 - Feb 5, 2002

  Weekend Edition

Cold snap causes some utilities failures

Gas and electrical lines fixed quickly

Express Staff Writer

In the midst of the winterís most severe cold snap to date, a number of Wood River Valley residents found themselves without heat, hot water or electricity this week.

Almost 700 mid-valley residents were without electricity Tuesday morning as temperatures topped off at 18 in Hailey, and many residents in the Elkhorn and Hulen Meadows areas were without natural gas on Wednesday when highs barely topped 20. Lows both days were well below zero.

Idaho Power Co. customers between Hailey and Ohio Gulch were without electricity from 7:10 p.m. to 9:23 p.m. Tuesday, company spokesman Dennis Lopez said.

"With those kinds of temperatures, those two hours are longer than they sound," Lopez said.

The cause of the electrical outage is still not known, he said, but he speculated that it could have been caused by a "trip in the line," like a fallen tree branch.

Intermountain Gas Co. customers in a large north-valley service area were without service most of the day Wednesday. No-heat calls originated from Elkorn to Chocolate Gulch.

An "obstruction" of an unknown variety clogged the line in a regulator station near Highway 75 and Elkhorn Road, Intermountain Gas Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs Mike Huntington said.

"It literally slowed down that flow, so that customers at the ends of the lines werenít getting enough pressure," he said.

The obstruction was identified and removed by late Wednesday afternoon, but Huntington said 28 Intermountain Gas employees from all over Southern Idaho worked throughout the night Wednesday and early Thursday to re-ignite pilot lights in the affected service area.

Typically, gas furnaces will automatically restart following a disruption in the gas flow, but hot water heaters usually will not, Huntington said.

If gas-powered equipment is not working, Huntington said customers should call 1-800-548-3679.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.